There are still mixed prisons

Protest against the mixed penal system

Modern penal systems are functional, gray and dreary. The smooth concrete wall around the area of ​​the Billwerder correctional facility on the outskirts of Hamburg is six meters high. Cornelia Ernst is the deputy head of the prison. A thick bunch of keys in her hand, her coat collar turned up, leads her across the wide courtyard. And explains how 60 women are to be accommodated in this prison, in which 550 men are already incarcerated:

"We'll also put a privacy screen there. So that if the women want to use this small playing field to play football or handball, they can do that too. But they get a beach volleyball court behind the building , the children's play area. "

Although prison experts and the opposition in the Hamburg citizenship are protesting: The Frauenknast Hahnöversand is to be dissolved, the female prisoners want to house the justice senator Jana Schiedek behind the concrete walls in Billwerder. Your argument: One of three detention houses is empty here. She wants to save 900,000 euros annually through the relocation. Cornelia Ernst from the JVA Billwerder sees no problems in a mixed jail in which the sexes live strictly separated from each other:

"I cannot understand at all when it is said that the women here run the risk of being exposed to their tormentors. Nobody is exposed to the tormentors here. Because we have to make sure that weak prisoners, for example, are not exposed to theirs by others Taking advantage of a position of power, being oppressed. This is already our daily bread. "

Nevertheless, all Hamburg opposition parties criticize the move plans: Left Party and CDU, Greens and FDP agree: The old women's prison on the Elbe island Hahnöfersand should be preserved. Anna von Treuenfels from the Liberals:

"I was in Hahnöfersand and talked to the women there. And they were all inspired by the thought that they wanted to stay in Hahnöfersand because it is a very rural area. This is really unique here in Hamburg. It has an island-like character and it is a shelter for them, in which they can, so to speak, devote themselves to their past, both their crimes and their past - which is usually shaped by violence. And that is exactly what is possible in Billwerder not. Because it is simply huge, because there are high walls around it. And because it is also a detention center for men. "

Again and again the opposition asked questions: the imprisoned women themselves should be questioned, at least their letters should be read out to the citizens. The SPD, which ruled Hamburg with an absolute majority, voted against it, but had the contents of the letters from Hahnöfersand recorded.

Here women can move freely. Like in their free time, when they can move freely around the house. And manage all corridors, for example Pola edition, doctors, group activities, pastors, external offers of help, church services, linen exchange, shopping and more on your own. This will never work in Billwerder.

Another prisoner fears:

Constant sexual harassment would be the order of the day. The women already know that from the remand prison.

Proponents of the move point out that other women in Hahnöversand see the move as positive - the transport connections are much better there and the possibilities for rehabilitation are more diverse. In addition, there are already successful examples of mixed enforcement in the Federal Republic of Germany.

Gerhard Rehn, however, is skeptical. This could make sense in large-scale states, says the Hamburg-based penal system expert.

"But if, as in Hamburg, you have an independent partial institution for women, which is undoubtedly the better solution for all experts, at least as an entrance gate, as a refuge at the beginning of this women's prison. Then there is no reason to forego it just because somewhere in Germany a second or third best solution also works. "

Rehn doesn't think it has been proven that moving the imprisoned women will actually save money. After all, the planned privacy walls also cost money. The constant accompaniment of the women in Billwerder binds additional staff and the prison for the women there would be administered by its own management. Senator Jana Schiedek does not want to change her mind:

"I'll stick to it: We have a coherent overall concept. In order to guarantee modern penal systems in the future at reasonable costs. And whoever closes himself off in this way, without even mentioning the approach of a sensible and affordable alternative, either refuses the task and really tells fairy tales. "

Hamburg's First Mayor Olaf Scholz stands behind his Senator for Justice and Equality. He considers the excitement about the women of Hahnöfersand to be exaggerated:

"There is that elsewhere too. And when it is set up, hardly anyone will remember that someone complained about it."

In the end, Scholz will probably be right. Because the renovation in Billwerder will take time. And most of the women who are incarcerated in Hahnöfersand today will be released before the move.