Hundreds of people have reportedly volunteered to spend three nights as “test inmates” within a newly-built prison in Zurich, Switzerland.
According to Bloomberg, the prison was built “after other facilities came under scrutiny for poor living conditions for prisoners.” The prison’s director, Marc Eiermann, said that the test run will be a way of “ensuring the proper functioning of daily operations and allowing wardens to familiarize themselves with the facility,” reported Swissinfo.
The test run will take place between March 24-27, said Unilad. Those selected will be given the choice to participate in a strip search upon entering the prison, said Bloomberg. Test inmates will also be given the choice to eat from halal, vegetarian or meat menus, and must surrender their smartphones and other electronic devices upon entering the facility.
If at any point, someone wants to leave, they will be allowed to do so, reported Bloomberg.
“There are only winners in this test operation. As a participant, you can experience in a safe environment how it might feel for a real arrested person to suddenly be locked up,” prison officials told The Local.
That being said, Eiermann reminded interested parties that the test run will not be a “holiday camp.”
“Just as working as a correctional specialist is a job that not everyone can do, staying as an arrested person is not for everyone either,” read the prison’s website, according to Bloomberg. Still, more than 600 people volunteered to participate.
Switzerland’s prisons aren’t the first to face scrutiny. Last year, the USA Today reported that the conditions in U.S. prison facilities often “fail to meet human rights standards.” One reason for this could be because U.S. prisons are, as the paper described, “densely crowded.”
According to the Pew Research Center, the U.S. “has the largest overall number of people behind bars.”
“With more than 2 million jail and prison inmates, the U.S.’s total incarcerated population is significantly greater than that of China [approximately 1.7 million] and Brazil [about 760,000],” the Pew Research Center said, adding that “data limitations” in countries such as China make direct comparisons “difficult.”
But prison overcrowding doesn’t just affect the U.S. On its website, Penal Reform International said that it is “one of the key contributing factors to poor prison conditions around the world.”
“It is arguably the biggest single problem facing prison systems; its consequences can be life-threatening at worst and at best prevent prisons from fulfilling their proper function,” the organization continued.
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