Ministers Not in Agreement on Prison Affairs Skip to content

Ministers Not in Agreement on Prison Affairs

Ministers in the Icelandic Government appear to disagree on how to go about financing a much needed new prison facility in Hólmsheidi; Finance Minister Steingrímur J. Sigfússon told radio Rás 2 yesterday morning he wants private investors to fund the construction, while the Minister of Interior and fellow Left Green Party member, Ögmundur Jónasson, states the construction of a new prison must be funded by the government. reported last year in December the building is to be 3600 square meters with 56 cells divided into three wards: Women’s ward, temporary detention and custody.

According to Morgunbladid and its source, there is an ongoing disagreement between the two ministries concerning the funding of a new prison; tender documents have been in place for months now.


Iceland’s prison Litla Hraun. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

Páll Winkel, Director-General of Prison and Probation Administration in Iceland, told “a new and spacious prison would allow prison authorities to accommodate more prisoners to begin sentencing.” He did state though that it is not for the prison authorities to involve themselves in the funding of a new prison building.

At present, many of those found guilty of criminal activities wait for months to begin their sentencing in the prison system. Winkel says he sometimes receives convicted individuals who’ve turned their life around, yet are still to serve their sentence in prison after as much as four years.”These individuals can expect to be arrested without a moment’s notice,” Páll told Morgunbladid

The Minister of the Interior Ögmundur Jónasson proposed in Althingi that community service for up to nine months be used to punish those sentenced for misdemeanors, reported in early June. According to article 27 number 49/2005 community service for at least 40 hours and a maximum of 240 hours is permissible if public safety is not threatened by the unpaid service to society.

Click here to read more about prison affairs in Iceland


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