A work camp in Reydarfjördur, east Iceland, could be modified to serve as a low-security prison, which could accommodate 300-500 prisoners, within weeks and thus eliminate the waiting list for prison cells.
Litla-Hraun, Iceland’s maximum security prison. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
The idea was presented to the Ministry of Justice (now Internal Affairs) one year ago but an answer is pending, ruv.is reports.
All of Iceland’s prisons are full and more than 300 convicts are waiting to serve their sentences. Those who usually would be placed behind bars for not paying fines have been allowed to walk free.
Tenders for the construction of a new maximum-security prison which would accommodate 50 prisoners and cost up to ISK 2 billion (USD 17 million, EUR 13 million) will be called for shortly.
RÚV reported last week that ideas had surfaced that the most pressing prison housing problems could be solved by moving part of the Reydarfjördur work camp, which used to accommodate those who built the local aluminum smelter, to Litla-Hraun, Iceland’s maximum security prison, and thus make room for up to 60 prisoners.
However, the prison director does not favor that idea.
Another idea is to simply fence off the work camp in its entirety in its current location in Reydarfjördur. Only few modifications would be necessary so the prison could be completed in a matter of weeks.
The work camp’s owners are prepared to rent it to the state for a few years. The cost would only be a small part of what the construction of a new maximum-security prison would cost.
The work camp has a kitchen, dining hall, gym, work facilities, medical room, school room, visiting facilities and other facilities required for a prison.
The local authorities in Fjardarbyggd approve of these plans, which would create dozens of new jobs in the municipality. However, a decision has yet to be made by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Click here to read more about Iceland’s prison housing problems.