Corona cases in Tegel – lockdown in prison lifted
Fri 01/14/22 | 3:23 p.m. | By Hannah Grünewald dpa/SchoeningAudio: Inforadio | 01/13/2022 | Hannah Gruenewald | Photo: dpa/Schoening After corona outbreaks in the prison in Tegel, around 260 inmates had to be isolated individually. The lockdown has now been lifted. It was still mentally stressful for everyone involved. By Hannah Grünewald Andreas Bach experienced the lockdown in prison himself: He is a prisoner in Tegel and works as an editor for the prisoner magazine “Lichtblick”. The isolation was a psychologically stressful time, says Bach. Especially as the prison lockdown coincided with the Christmas and New Year holidays. “During this time, some inmates were completely cut off from their families,” says Bach. Corona cases were detected in three parts of the prison in Tegel in mid-December. First the individual institutions were isolated from each other, then the freedom of movement of the inmates was restricted. Initially, the inmates were allowed to spend time in fixed groups, so-called cohorts. After renewed testing and further corona infections, the individual isolation was then strengthened. For the inmates, this meant: no visits, hardly any telephone calls, cell openings only twice a day.
Stressful situation for affected inmates
Prison chaplain Christina Ostrick also knows how stressful the situation is for the inmates affected. She accompanies the prisoners in Tegel through the corona pandemic. For many, Corona was far away for a long time, says Ostrick. With the outbreak in prison in December, the pandemic became noticeable for many – and with it the additional restrictions. “The isolation pushes some to the edge of their psychological resilience,” says Ostrick. Consequences: kicking against walls, screaming, destroying personal belongings. A prisoner was at the end of his strength during the isolation and was given a mobile phone by prison officials to communicate with the pastor. A practice that would not have been possible before the Corona pandemic.
Corona protection measures are checked again and again
Containing the pandemic is a complicated task that demands a lot from the prisoners, admits the responsible department head at the Senate Department for Justice, Susanne Gerlach. For all measures, the JVA Tegel consults the Reinickendorf health department – also to check whether the measures are still necessary. Gerlach speaks of a tense relationship when it comes to pandemic protection in the institutions: “On the one hand, we have to see that the prisoners have rights, that we have to resocialize them, that we want and have to fulfill our legal obligations – and on the other hand, we can’t always do things that way , like in normal times.”
The isolation is pushing some to the edge of their mental resilience.
Prison chaplain Christina Ostrick
According to Gerlach, 28 people in prison have been infected with the corona virus in Tegel prison since mid-December. Most of them have recovered and been released from quarantine. Individual isolation was also ended on January 10 for the detainees of the affected parts of the institution. According to the current status, three prisoners are currently suffering from the corona virus. One of them is in an external hospital.
Despite the Corona outbreak in Tegel in mid-December, Gerlach draws a positive balance. In Berlin’s prisons, 256 inmates have contracted the corona virus since the outbreak of the pandemic, out of a total of around 3,500 inmates. “Even if every infection is one too many, I still think that this challenge was mastered well overall thanks to the great commitment of the colleagues on site.”
Criticism of law enforcement officials
The prisoner Andreas Bach, on the other hand, criticizes the behavior of some prison officers. According to Bach’s descriptions, these often did not comply with the mask requirement or the minimum distance. Susanne Gerlach from the Berlin Judicial Senate Administration, on the other hand, considers the disregard of protective measures by civil servants to be isolated cases. Supervisors are required to keep their employees aware of the pandemic protection measures.
Cramped living conditions, many people under one roof: it is difficult to keep Corona completely out of prison, says Susanne Gerlach from the Justice Senate Administration. Whoever enters the prison must abide by the 3G rule. And also for activities within the institution, such as church services, vaccination, recovery or test status must be communicated. In addition, vaccination continues to increase in prison, not only among staff but also among inmates. There are still no reliable figures as to how high the vaccination rate is among the inmates. According to Susanne Gerlach, it is more than 80 percent among employees. Broadcast: Inforadio, January 13, 2022, 6:25 p.m
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Contribution by Hannah Grünewald
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