Fancy spending a night or two in jail?

Hundreds of people have jumped at the chance to spend a night in a new jail in Zurich, where volunteers have been given the opportunity to try facility out before it starts accepting its first inmates.
Zurich authorities are still working out the details of the test run which is due to take place on March 24 to 27th, with over 800 applications having already been received for the as-yet undisclosed number of “vacancies”.
To qualify volunteers have to be over the age of 18 and live locally, each being given an experience that is reminiscent of some reality TV programmes. Those that are selected will get to test all the facilities including pre-trial detention, jail services and the prison cells.
The facility, located west of the city’s main train station, is expected to house up to 124 people who are under provisional arrest and to have 117 places for individuals held in pre-trial detention.
Volunteers won’t be paid for their participation but they will treated like the inmates, undergoing intake procedures, exercising in the yard, eating the food and staying in the cells.
No cell phones or other electronic devices will be allowed and every participant is required to undergo a security clearance check. They will also undergo all the checks that prisoners undergo when entering the facility, although there is no mention of strip or other invasive searches.
A safe word will also be provided to volunteers should they decide they wish to bail out, which when told to staff will see them removed from the facility.
The trial run is designed to allow officials to test the services, operations and capacity of the prison, as it will staff training. It will also enable them to check their cooperation and communication with other authorities, such as police and prosecutors.
If all goes to plan it is also hoped that it will help to clear up what they consider misconceptions about how guards, wardens and other employees operate in such facilities.
Marc Eiermann, Head of Prison Management at Zurich West Prison said in an email: “There are so many penny dreadfuls 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.”
“Penny dreadfuls” helped caricature prison life back in the early 1900’s.
Elena Tankovski, a spokeswoman for the Zurich region’s corrections and rehabilitation services department said: “A lot of our wardens, they have a lot of social skills. They know how treat people right. It’s more like they want to be on the same eye level with them (the inmates). They are actually more a carer than a guard.”
Spending a night or two in jail is not everyone’s idea of fun, however testing the facility could be a great experience for those curious about jail’s and the prison system.

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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]