The canton of Zurich wants to test its new Zurich-West prison before it goes into operation – with volunteers who want to find out what pre-trial detention feels like. The test run is scheduled to take place in March 2022.
The prison operation should be simulated as realistically as possible. That means: no cell phone, no books. “Only the body searches are waived,” said prison director Marc Eiermann on Monday in front of the media. A password will also be agreed with which the volunteers can indicate that the attempt can be canceled.
“We weren’t prepared for that”
The new Zurich West prison in the Zurich Police and Justice Center (PJZ) is scheduled to start operations in April 2022. The canton has been looking for 100 employees since last October. 808 applications were received for this. “We weren’t prepared for that,” said Eiermann. “We were really happy about that.”
According to Eiermann, 70 percent of the positions are now filled. The median age is 37 years, the gender ratio is balanced.
“Nobody goes there voluntarily”
For the second wave of recruiting, the canton would like more people who already have experience in the penal system. Because not only specialists have been and will be recruited, but also targeted lateral entrants.
Eiermann himself is one of these: he had worked in emergency care for 13 years before going to prison, most recently at the Zurich University Hospital. There are some parallels between emergency wards and prisons, said Eiermann: “Nobody goes there voluntarily, there are unplanned entries and exits and you are confronted with existential questions – these are crisis situations.”
The change from medicine to the penal system did not come from the gut, as he said. He had to convince in eight selection rounds. “You reflect a lot in the process, it was a ripe decision.”
The GZW is part of the PJZ, which is being built on the former site of the Zurich freight station. There will be 241 places for those temporarily arrested or in custody. In total, the prison will employ over 140 people. (SDA)