Zurich residents line up to book themselves into prison

Zurich residents line up to book themselves into prison
Zurich residents line up to book themselves into prison
Written by Harry Johnson

The ‘test run’ participants will have to hand over their money and mobile phones, remain locked up in their cells for most of the day, receive prison food and walks in the yard according to a schedule, and undergo a standard security check at the beginning.

The officials in the Swiss canton of Zurich were quite surprised by the response they have received after they announced a campaign to recruit ‘volunteers’ for a brief ‘test run’ in a new local correctional facility in late March.

Located in the western part of the city of Zurich, the prison is expected to house up to 124 people under provisional arrest, and 117 people in pre-trial detention, bringing the total number of places to 241.

Official registration for the experiment started on February 5 and received 832 applications in two-wo week time.

Hundreds of Zurich residents apparently want to be locked up in prison, with the head of the new correctional facility describing the registration process as a rush for free places.

“One can already say that we are fully booked,” a spokesperson for the Zurich canton’s corrections and rehabilitation services department said.

The correction department officials warn that the four-day ‘test run’ detention, scheduled to take place between March 24 and 27, will not be an easy ride for the volunteer ‘inmates’, since the facility would like to keep the conditions inside as realistic as possible.

The ‘test run’ participants will have to hand over their money and mobile phones, remain locked up in their cells for most of the day, receive prison food and walks in the yard according to a schedule, and undergo a standard security check at the beginning. They will, however, be able to choose whether they want to stay for just a few hours or the entire duration.

One of the few optional things for participants is whether they want to undergo a strip search before entering the prison. “It is definitely not that pleasant. It is all the more surprising that 80 percent of those who registered agreed to being strip searched,” the new prison’s chief said.

The would-be ‘inmates’ will be able to choose between regular, vegetarian, and halal meals, the prison authorities said. According to them, just as many women as men registered for the experiment. The same goes for vegetarians and meat-eaters. The volunteers will also have a ‘safe word’ in case the conditions turn out to be too harsh for them. 

The trial will help the facility test the capacity, services, and operations, as well as cooperation and communication with other law enforcement authorities. The prison administration also hopes to dispel what they call myths about prison operations.

“There are so many myths about life in prison and about the demanding work the prison staff does every day that we wanted to use this opportunity to show how we really work – and how much professionalism and experience is needed to work with inmates,” the facility head said.

The prison is expected to house the first real inmates in early April.

About the author

Harry Johnson

Harry Johnson has been the assignment editor for eTurboNews for mroe than 20 years. He lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, and is originally from Europe. He enjoys writing and covering the news.

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