Senator for Justice Felor Badenberg (non-party) presented the plans for the construction of a so-called suicide prevention room at Moabit Prison on Thursday. According to the plans, work is set to begin in early 2024 and be completed by the third quarter at the latest. According to the Senate Department for Justice, the estimated cost of the project is 438,000 euros. The plan is to set up such rooms in all closed prisons in Berlin.
Justice Department plans more suicide prevention in prison
The Berlin Senate Department for Justice wants to reduce the risk of suicide among prison inmates and create special detention rooms for this purpose.
New rooms to radiate a different atmosphere
According to the justice department, detainees who are considered suicidal are usually housed in specially secured cells with camera surveillance. However, these are very sparsely furnished with no dangerous objects. "Prisoners sometimes avoid disclosing suicidal thoughts as they fear being transferred to these rooms," says the justice department. The new rooms should radiate a different atmosphere and at the same time pose as little danger as possible, for example through furniture with rounded corners or underfloor heating. Nevertheless, according to the statement, these rooms will also be under camera surveillance.
Eight suicides in Berlin prisons so far in 2023
According to the justice department, there have been eight suicides in Berlin prisons so far this year. This is significantly more than in the entire previous year, in which there were three cases. According to the figures provided, there were five suicides in 2021. As is the case nationwide, the number of suicides in Berlin prisons fluctuates greatly from year to year. According to the justice department, there were five suicides in Berlin prisons ten years ago while in 2019 there were none. In contrast, nine prisoners took their own lives in the first year of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. However, the justice system does not believe that this can be attributed to the pandemic and the associated restrictions: The first four cases occurred before the covid-related measures began. An evaluation of the other cases also revealed no connection to coronavirus.
Exchange with other federal states
There currently are around 3,500 inmates in Berlin's seven prisons. According to the justice department, there are a number of measures in place to try and prevent suicides. For example, an examination is carried out at the beginning of a prison sentence to determine whether there are any signs of increased risk. If a prisoner exhibits certain risk factors, the medical or psychological service is called in. Berlin is also in contact with the other federal states in order to take their experiences into account. The state is an active member of the federal working group "Suicide Prevention in Prisons".