I got a chance to visit Dusseldorf Prison, Germany in early June 2016. A visit to Dusseldorf prison  gave me impression that it was a secure, comfortable, humane and sumptuous. These conditions reflect the good will of the German government to build prisons better than the previous conditions which are full of problems such as overcrowded, torture and quaint. Although it is expensive, German government choose to meet the standards.

Secure impression from this prison can be seen by the design of the prison building especially because it is in the basement. When I entered the building, First post was for identity check, then continued enter the building through tunnel. This journey was so exciting because it was full of painting. As long as I walked, the tunnel was deeper, meander, and up and down. It was difficult to recognize where my position precisely, is it in the north, south, west, or east. It took time to understand the intricacies in that prison. People said that it needed three years to understand it with the signs provided.

With the design like Dusseldorf Prison, it is almost certainly difficult for inmates to escape. There is no loophole for inmates to attempt escape, fights blocs, or escape through the visiting room, because the security system has been aided by the architectural design of the building that was deliberately made to facilitate security control. The blocs are separated by a tunnel to limit the interaction between inmates in different blocs. Tunnel with 40 meters long made for the visitors’ track was deliberately established with security model. However, the tunnel was created with artistic design concept by Markus Linnenbrink to eliminate the haunted impression.

The facilities available  give comfort for those who are in prison. There was a gym, football field with synthetic grass, and a hall for religious events and inmates’ wedding. Family and lawyers who visit the inmates have their own room as well. The types of the room are different for each inmate depends on inmate’s behavior changes. Inmate who has turned into better behavior, will get a room for family visit with sofa, TV, and a children’s playground. For inmates who long to take part in the work, they were assessed first, afterward they are recommended to work at the workshop provided in prison. Assessment is conducted to monitor the behavior and violent/extremism level of inmates regardless of the level of crime they have committed.

Humane impression can be seen from the way of placement of the inmates which is one room for one inmate. The officers were very careful when entering the inmates’ room because they do not want to litter the rooms. Isolation room provided is quite large with no facilities in it, except the toilet, lighting, and CCTV. This is aimed to prevent inmates from committing suicide in the room.

Germany does not recognize the death penalty or a life sentence. Maximum penalty that is set there is 20 years of imprisonment. Germany also does not have a system of remission, but has Parole system proposed through the courts. Parole filing is based on results of third party assessment that refers to changes of the behavior, family and social environment.

The prison is designed by BDP, an outstanding German architectural firm, through contest. This prison is built on an area of 15 hectares with the concept of office and residential building that combined with the green concept and connected with halls for activities. BPD designs prisons in Dusseldorf for the first time, but the concept is very successful in integrating security systems with guidance and the concept of green space for outdoor activities either officers or inmates.

Indonesian government needs to follow Germany’s correctional system, because we are almost similar in the age of government and democratic system. Indonesia needs to make changes to the criminal law system and criminal procedural law system so that not every criminal offense has to be jailed, prioritize rehabilitation and reintegration programs, as well as determine the behavioral assessment system more professional, such as the involvement of a third party to conduct the assessment. Indonesia also needs to open up and provides opportunities for state-owned companies to involve in building prison in order to get new idea to combine the concept of safety, comfort, humane, with a green concept. The mechanism can be stiffened through contest or competition for public so the designs are more diverse,   more reflect correctional, and not merely have image as a building full of bars.

(by Gatot Goei)

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