How good or bad are German prisons? Do they fulfill their purpose, or do prison stays in the end really criminal? In the new DISKUTHEK episode, three people who have spent much of their lives – some of them professionally – in prison discuss these and other questions: “crime scene” actor and former prison doctor Joe Bausch, former inmate Volkert Ruhe and Ex Prison director Thomas Galli.
For minor offenses in jail? DISKUTHEK guests refuse
There is great agreement regarding the punishment of minor offenses. Here, according to the DISKUTHEK guests, should basically be waived imprisonment. Too negative is the influence of penal institutions on the career of petty criminals. Integration into society often does not work for dismissed offenders in the opinion of all three discussants.
In prisons, offenders should on the one hand pay for their actions and on the other hand be resocialized. But especially with the latter, the system often fails. Not infrequently, released inmates are reoffending again. Many are back in execution. “This basic idea of imprisoning hundreds of people in a closed facility that has nothing to do with life in freedom and then spitting it out after a few years – that goes backwards,” says Thomas Galli, himself as a prison director in Bavaria but later turned his back on the system. He speaks from experience and has been calling for some time radical: He wants to abolish prisons completely and pleads for alternative forms of punishment, such as housing in special, guarded housing groups.
Eight years jail for a drug offense
Volkert Ruhe, who spent eight years of his life in prison because of a drug offense, also questions the benefits of German prisons in the DISKUTHEK – especially for adolescents: “If adolescents get into the mills of justice, they go completely underneath.” Rest even with 48 years and 20,000 euros debt has been released from prison. Today he is doing prevention work with his association “Prisoners help young people”.
But he and Joe Bausch would not go much further than ex-prison director Galli. Despite much reform, they are in favor of maintaining the institution of prison. “The prison sentence is what you make of it,” says Ruhe with a view to his own imprisonment. Bausch, who has been living in prisons for many years as a prison doctor, demands that, in particular, not all juveniles should be punished with “jail”. Especially in this phase of life it is important to use other methods. Basically, all DISKUTHEK guests agree that perpetrators who have committed minor offenses need better care. In Germany too often social workers, psychologists and real perspectives are lacking.
At DISKUTHEK, Bausch, Galli and Ruhe also speak very openly about dealing with suicides, drug abuse behind bars and extreme physical violence.
The new episode of the star DISKUTHEK you can see today from 17 clock on www.youtube.com/stern and here on www.stern.de.