Inmates should be able to enjoy prison concerts

Every year various cultural events are staged for the inmates of the prison in Bostadel, near Menzingen. While there have been objections raised in certain quarters about these in the past, overall the government feels they should take place, not least to help in prisoners’ eventual re-integration back into society.

One of the concerts put on is an annual Christmas one at which a band performs. Back in 2017, three members of the cantonal parliament, namely Beni Riedi of the SVP party of Baar, Pirmin Andermatt of the CVP party, also of Baar, and Florian Weber of the FDP party of Walchwil, who has since become a member of the cantonal government, along with 25 others of similar political ilk, thought the cantonal government should not allow these concerts to be held for the enjoyment of perpetrators of serious crime.

As mentioned, the government supported the events, which it thought would help in the eventual re-integration of prisoners back into society. Indeed, it pointed out that this is part of what prisons were expected to do, helping inmates to go on to live a life without re-offending. Keeping them locked up without any access to entertainment would surely hinder this, the cantonal government felt.

However, those who raised their objections to such events behind bars felt such entertainment was not appropriate, particularly at a prison such as Bostadel, where it is known that there are prisoners who are likely to try to abscond and re-offend, and who in certain cases may represent a danger.

The government pointed out that prisoners held there had become increasingly isolated; while in 1995 permission for 565 temporary exeats had been given, this figure had been reduced to as few as 12 in 2017. The government felt that with prisoners confined to cells and subject to lack of variety in daily routine also led to them becoming increasingly aggressive. “Hence there is no doubt that, under such conditions, the occasional concert is something prisoners look forward to. What is more, the cost of them is not borne by the cantonal public purse; they are covered by an “Inmates’ Fund” sourced by fines on prisoners,” the government explained.

It further felt that it was still a tough time for prisoners to be incarcerated for years at a time even with the odd concert they could attend. “These ones taking place only once a year harm no-one and do not incur costs for the canton,” it continued. “They should be allowed to continue, not least for humanitarian reasons.”

The second photograph shows the Blackberry Brandies group playing for convicts in 2015.

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