It has been demanded for years, now the time has come: The pilot project “Mobile Phone Suppression” in Berlin prisons has started. However, initially only in an institution. And considerably more expensive than planned. This is also planned for Brandenburg prisons. ALEXANDER FRÖHLICH SIDNEY GENNIES
Berlin / Potsdam – It took five years. A good two and a half years longer than planned and about 250 000 euros more expensive than estimated. But, and that’s right Berlin’s Justice Senator Thomas Heilmann (CDU): It works. He proudly shows his cellphone in the cameras in house 9 of the juvenile detention center (JSA) in Charlottenburg. “No network” is there. He has just taken the first cell phone blocker in a Berlin prison in operation. “I’m not worried about the innovativeness of the prisoners,” said Heilmann. Several hundred cell phones would be smuggled into Berlin detention centers every year. There are 200 in 2012 alone. One way to prevent this is to have more controls. It is more effective to disturb the reception. Mobile phones are prohibited by law in prisons.
Even Brandenburg’s Justice Minister Volkmar Schöneburg (left) wants to allow mobile phone blockers in prisons from January 2013. However, the number of cell phones found in detainees is much lower than in Berlin and stable. In the first half of 2012 there were 54, in the past year 104 and in 2010 still 112. For the use of the mobile phone blocker, the state parliament but still the new Penal Code to pass.
However, Schöneburg wants to spend significantly less on the equipment in the prisons in Brandenburg than his counterpart in Berlin. The use of expensive cell phone blockers that automatically prevent mobile calls in the entire detention center, rejected so far Schöneburg because of the high cost. That would cost one million euros per prison. Instead, the minister relies on a cheaper option, namely mobile devices used against certain people in the prison. There are 2000 euro expensive mobile phone finder, which can be monitored in only a few cells, whether the inmates illegally using a mobile phone or on the Internet. These mobile phone finders can also be upgraded to mobile phone blockers, which completely suppress any cell phone calls on an area of two cells. Schöneburg gives priority to the small appliances, because so far only criminal offenses have been organized in a few isolated cases.
Heinz Haertle, head of the juvenile detention center in Berlin-Charlottenburg, said Tuesday: “Honestly, most inmates call mom and girlfriend.” However, contacts with the criminal milieu and the influence of witnesses during a trial would have to be stopped. Therefore, the 840,000 euro pilot project is initially limited to JSA remand, where the risk of inmates intimidating witnesses is particularly high. Social contacts could be maintained via phones in the asylum.
Now a system of antennas prevents Internet and mobile radio reception in the area of detention and on parts of the sports field. The residential environment is not affected “We hope that next month we will be able to locate exactly two cells where a cell phone is used,” said Torsten Fuß of the planning office TSC. If the project is successful after one year, all detention centers in Berlin will be equipped with the system. Plans were made in 2007 under Justice Senator Gisela von der Aue (SPD), which calculated 2.5 million euros total cost of the cell phone jammer. Especially the JSA was criticized at that time, because couriers could smuggle mobile phones, drugs and even kebabs on the prison walls in a big way.Alexander Fröhlich / Sidney Gennies