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What are Swiss Prisons Like? (Viral Video)

Switzerland is known for its progressive incarceration approach, emphasizing rehabilitation and reintegration. The layout of Swiss prisons provides inmates with a safe and comfortable environment while helping them prepare for life after release.

After seeing a clip on Reddit about a pristine prison cell in Switzerland, I decided to explore the topic. I wondered: how are Swiss prisons different from other countries?

Are the living conditions for prisoners in Switzerland really as good as the clip wants us to believe? It's our tax money being spent, after all.

Viral Reddit video offers rare glimpse into Swiss prison life

A recent Reddit post offered a glimpse inside a Swiss prison, showing conditions that shocked many viewers. The video toured a modern cell with amenities like a private bathroom, beds, dressing table, TV, and kettle.

Large windows let in ample natural light and views of surrounding greenery. The inmate filming also displayed corridors and a hole-in-the-wall that lights cigarettes automatically.

At the end of the day, he documented receiving dinner that rivaled upscale room service. The food arrived encased in gleaming silver domes, leaving viewers to imagine the quality of meals in light of the prison's other luxuries.

Even I was surprised to see such a clean, comfortable facility. It looks even nicer than what I imagined and surely bears little resemblance to stereotypical prisons. The humane conditions surprised many Redditors who imagined a prison offering a dreary environment by definition.

My favorite comments:

  • "That’s a 1.3m studio in SF." (MoreRamenPls)
  • "As a Norwegian, I'm surprised to see two inmates in one small room." (xTrollhunter)
  • "What is the crime that needs to be committed to get in there?" (Western_Oil_6418)
Copyright amy2kim22/reddit

About the Swiss prison system

In Swiss prisons, inmates get clean, comfortable living areas. They can access education and job training, too. These programs aim to help prisoners rejoin society after release. The focus is on rehabilitation, not just punishment.

The Swiss prison system emphasizes restorative justice. This approach repairs harm from crimes and promotes healing for all involved. Restorative justice sees crime as a social problem needing a social solution.

The goal is to rehabilitate offenders and help victims through open dialogue and accountability. In turn, this approach helps to reduce relapses after release into society.

According to data from the Federal Statistical Office, the recidivism rate of adult prisoners in Switzerland is around 23% as of 2020. This compares favorably to rates of around 60% in countries like the United States and the United Kingdom.

How Swiss prisons are different from other countries

Swiss prisons are different from prisons in other countries in several ways. Here are some of the main differences:

Clean and comfortable living spaces: Swiss prisons provide inmates with clean and comfortable living spaces, which include their own toilet and a small bedroom with a dressing table, a TV, and a kettle. The rooms have large windows that provide natural light and a view of the surrounding greenery.

Access to educational and vocational programs: Inmates in Swiss prisons have access to educational and vocational programs that help them acquire new skills and prepare for life after release. This approach emphasizes rehabilitation and reintegration to reduce recidivism rates.

Emphasis on rehabilitation and reintegration: The Swiss prison system emphasizes rehabilitation and reintegration, focusing on reducing recidivism rates. Inmates are encouraged to take responsibility for their actions and to work towards becoming productive members of society.

Restorative justice: The Swiss prison system emphasizes restorative justice, which involves repairing the harm caused by criminal behavior and promoting healing for all parties involved. This approach is based on the belief that crime is a social problem that requires a social solution.

Living conditions for prisoners in Switzerland

Known for their focus on rehabilitation over punishment, Swiss prisons provide inmates with clean and comfortable living spaces. At Pöschwies prison in Regensdorf, prisoners reside in modern single or double rooms with amenities like flat-screen TVs and private showers.

Many prisons, such as Hindelbank in Bern, offer large windows with greenery views and access to outdoor garden spaces. Vocational programs allow prisoners to learn new trades like welding or gardening.

The Zurich West Prison (GZW) just opened in 2022. It features airy 15 square meter rooms equipped with shelving and televisions.

Zurich West Prison - Copyright Till Forrer/Baudirektion Kanton Zürich
Copyright Till Forrer/Baudirektion Kanton Zürich

Access to education is also a priority. Inmates can earn vocational certificates or high school degrees to aid reintegration into society. Creative outlets like music lessons are also offered in facilities like Saxerriet Prison.

With its spacious rooms, programming, and focus on redemption, the Swiss incarceration model sets itself apart through humane environments and rehabilitation.

Interesting facts about prisons in Switzerland

  • Some 20 Swiss prisons, such as Pfäffikon and Pöschwies facilities, have pink cells to calm inmates. A color psychologist developed the tone Cool Down Pink.
  • Inmates in Swiss prisons can earn money by working in prison industries, such as making furniture or working in a call center.
  • Prisoners earn between 3 to 5 Swiss francs per hour based on the job, allowing them to save money for life after release or purchase approved items from the prison store.
  • One novel feature of Swiss prisons is the hole in the wall that lights your cigarette for you. This feature is controversial, but it is an example of Swiss prisons' innovative and humane approach to incarceration.
  • Inmates can participate in various recreational activities like sports, gardening, and learning to play instruments. These provide mental enrichment and help give prisoners purpose and structure.
Cool Down Pink Swiss Prisons Cell in Switzerland - Copyright Color Motion GmbH
Copyright Color Motion GmbH

FAQs about Swiss prisons

Dimitri Burkhard

As the founder, editor, and community manager of Newly Swissed, Dimitri owns the strategic vision. He is passionate about storytelling and is a member of Swiss Travel Communicators. Dimitri loves discovering new trends and covers architecture, design, start-ups and tourism.

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Dimitri Burkhard

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