A new prison will be built at Hólmsheidi on the outskirts of Reykjavík, as decided at a cabinet meeting yesterday. It will facilitate both male and female prisoners, 56 persons in total. Construction is scheduled to finish in 2014.
Litla-Hraun, Iceland’s maximum security prison. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
“I consider this a very important decision. It has been called for, not only in the past few years, but decades,” Minister of the Interior Ögmundur Jónasson told Morgunbladid.
The new prison will have many purposes, Jónasson said, among others to replace the old women’s prison in Kópavogur and the detention facility on Skólavördustígur in the capital’s center, and ease the pressure on the maximum security prison Litla-Hraun near Eyrarbakki, which has been used for custody sentences.
“It answers a direct demand but I envision that in the future we will continue developments at Litla-Hraun and that the center of the Icelandic prison system will remain there but that the focus will be on redemption,” Jónasson added.
It has yet to be decided how the prison on Hólmsheidi, which is estimated to cost ISK 2.1 billion (USD 18.5 million, EUR 12.8 million), will be financed, or whether it will be a private project.
“It is a step that will be taken as soon as the ground plan is at hand and the construction of the prison opens for tenders. That will happen next year and the plan is for construction to begin in the latter part of 2012,” the minister explained.
The first step, however, is to launch a competition on the design of the building, in which smaller architect firms will also be able to participate.
“It is pleasing to be able to answer such demands because architecture is one of the professions that has suffered the worst consequences of the collapse,” Jónasson concluded.
The lack of prison facilities in Iceland has regularly been reported on in the past years.
Click here to read more about the prison housing problem.