Allow cell phones in jail

Corona in prison: cell phones smuggled again

The prisoners in Hamburg prisons had to return their cell phones on Wednesday. For some it means breaking off social contacts.

Just as difficult as in the film Search Party: Telephoning for prisoners in Glaasmoor JVA Photo: Everett Connection / Imago

HAMBURGtaz | Visiting rights in the Hamburg penal institutions are still restricted. Prisoners are allowed to receive visitors for one hour once a week if they have submitted an application beforehand. However, strict hygiene rules apply. You wear a mask, have to keep your distance and a protective wall prevents contact.

No visitors were allowed to come during the lockdown, which is why the judicial authorities distributed cell phones to prison inmates in April to enable them to contact friends and family. Despite the increasing number of infections, the cell phones were collected again on Wednesday.

The Left is now campaigning for cell phones to be allowed to be used in prisons until the end of the year. Because the social contacts are "an indispensable part of a successful rehabilitation", explains Cansu Özdemir, the judicial policy spokeswoman for the left-wing parliamentary group.

Hans Peter R. felt it was a "great relief" to be able to use his cell phone in the prison. He is in the open execution of the JVA Glasmoor. Prisoners in the open prison have the opportunity to go to work outside the prison. During this time you can use your private cell phone. When they come back from work, the cell phone is locked.

Inmate fears that the son will experience another loss

Since April, Hans Peter R. has been allowed to take his phone with him into the detention room and was able to video chat with his family after work. “My three year old son has a visual and hearing disorder. That is why his development is cognitively delayed, ”says Hans Peter R. When his father had to go to prison, the child had severe fear of loss, which would have restricted his learning development more.

"With my cell phone I could call my son every evening via video chat, do speaking exercises with him and tell him a bedtime story," says Hans Peter R. Even dinner with the family was possible during this time.

The fact that he could now see and hear his father every day helped the son in his development: "My son's pediatrician and kindergarten said he was making great progress at the moment." must experience renewed loss.

“He's not even allowed to touch me during visiting hours on Saturday. How is he supposed to understand that he is not allowed to cuddle with me? ”That is why the family is now completely foregoing visits.

Left party against abolition

For Cansu Özdemir there is no reason to abolish cell phones again: "The experience with cell phone use so far has been extremely good." It is wrong to end this successful measure hastily. So far, "everything indicates that there have been no significant problems with the use of mobile phones".

This is confirmed by the judicial authority. "The issue of the telephones did not cause any additional problems in the JVA Glasmoor," says its spokeswoman Marayke Frantzen.

Cansu Özdemir, the left

“Our experience with mobile phone use so far has been extremely good. There is absolutely no reason to rush to terminate this successful measure "

The CDU positions itself completely differently: "Cell phones do not belong in the hands of prisoners," says the judicial policy spokesman for the Hamburg CDU parliamentary group, Richard Seelmaecker. The control effort and the risk of abuse are too high. Therefore, at the end of August, the CDU demanded that the prisoners' phones be removed as soon as possible.

According to information from the Senate in response to a request from the Left, there were "several thousand checks" on the use of telephones in the prisons. The cell phones were only allowed to be used in the detention room and not worn on the body in the courtyard. For Hans Peter R., the fear that prisoners could conduct illegal business out of their cell or plan to break out is unfounded, especially in open prison: "Everything that we cannot do in the cell, we could do in the open air."

Two telephones for 30 people

In the prison, around 30 people normally have access to two telephones in one ward. According to Hans Peter R., the devices in his department are installed in a small room without a window. He thinks it is difficult to ventilate there regularly. The phones could become a corona hotspot. Apart from the health risk, phone calls from the prison are significantly more expensive. With a tariff of seven cents per minute, calls would have to be reduced to the bare essentials.

The judicial authority, however, sees no health risk. A large area of ​​the station corridor is used for ventilation and disinfectants are made available.

Hans Peter R. doesn't just want to put up with it. He has filed an application for a court decision. But until it is processed, R. has to hand over his cell phone after work.