Lax Jail Security Sees Young Female Corrections Officer Killed in Sweden

Lax Jail Security Sees Young Female Corrections Officer Killed in Sweden

October 3, 2011
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Last June, this 25-year-woman, whose identity has not yet been revealed to mass media, started work at Huddinge jail as a corrections officer. During her morning shift this Monday, she was jumped and bludgeoned to death with her own nightstick by a 30-year-old man with a history of violent crime, as he was being booked for attempted murder. The bloody assault took place on the roof of Huddinge jail at around 10.30 AM, when she was alone with the repeat offender during an outdoor walk.

For a long time now, Sweden has been ravaged by numerous attacks by inmates on correction officers, who face daily threats and assaults as they carry out their duties. However, due to the country’s preference for “humane” treatment of offenders, the officers are bogged down by regulations limiting their ability to deal with the convicts in an effective manner, with more attention being paid to the rehabilitation and well-being of the inmates than prison security and employee protection. In spite of the 30-year-old having been previously convicted of other violent crimes, the 25-year-old woman was still alone with him at the time of the assault, armed with nothing more than a nightstick.

At first thought to be an accident


As the woman’s body was discovered shortly thereafter on the roof, the Prison Service at first assumed she had suffered an accident, according to Gunilla Ternert, regional director for the Stockholm Prison Service. As paramedics arrived and picked her up, they realized this was a case of assault. At this time she was still alive, but she would be pronounced dead from her injuries shortly after reaching the hospital.

Around lunchtime, Gunilla told Swedish Radio that “there had been a quarrel, a commotion;” though during a press conference later that afternoon, Hesam Akbari, the head of information at the Södertörn police force contradicted this information after having reviewed security footage and told mass media that “what has become evident is that it appears to have been completely unprovoked. One could call it an assault.” The identity of the perpetrator has not been made available to the public, however, nor has this footage.

“Security is good”


Swedish Radio also interviewed Inga Mellgren, General Director of the Swedish Prison Service, who stated that “security is good” at Swedish jails.

To newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, representatives of the union for corrections officers, SEKO, relate an ever more stressful work environment, with ever more tasks assigned to them, more paper work and more time alone with inmates. In a press release, Christer Henriksson from SEKO writes that “even if the government maintains that the funding has increased, this has not been assigned to staff reinforcements.”

Swedish correctional facilities are extremely costly by international standards. In today’s currency, an inmate at a jail such as this one costs the equivalent of $400 a day, and slightly more than that at an actual prison. This is about about five or six times as much as the typical US inmate cost. Compared to American prisons, the Swedish Prison Service prioritizes rehabilitation and inmate comfort to a much greater extent, than the role a prison has traditionally been expected to serve.

The Commanding Officer at Huddinge jail also told Svenska Dagbladet that the staff at the institution all feel incredibly bad right now. This incident is far from the first one of its kind, with frequent attacks by inmates on corrections officers, many of whom are women. The greatest risks are posed when inmates have to be transported between institutions, a procedure that is heavily regulated under Swedish law so as not to constitute discomfort for the inmate – and some officers are even assaulted in their own homes by former inmates or their cohorts.

Employees have complained about work hazards


Regional safety representative Markko Murtosaari told newspaper Expressen that employees at Huddinge jail have sent in complaints to the Prison Service in the past over the hazards they face as they’re regularly expected to walk the inmates alone; “They [the Prison Service] have not wanted to talk to me. We had called for a meeting, but our employer didn’t agree to this,” he continues. Markko states that the Prison Service has settled with cameras for security, but this apparently didn’t save the young woman’s life.

Though corrections officers face a rough life in prison, the opposite could be said about the inmates, with one person per cell, TV sets, game consoles, leisure activities and wonderful accommodation. For a video clip I produced about the Swedish correctional system, go here. Inmates are also granted extensive privileges under Swedish law, and if these are not met, they’re entitled to complain to the Parliamentary Ombudsman (JO in Swedish), whose judgements are almost always in their favor, with the added stress on the prison employees of having to be interrogated in the process. In my book “The Madhouse: A critical study of Swedish society,” I go into greater length on this topic, yet a few of these cases can be mentioned here:

The prison chief told an inmate to shut up when he was interrupting a meeting repeatedly. The inmate filed a complaint with the JO, and both the Prison Service and the JO agreed to criticize the prison chief over this, saying that it “wasn’t suitable” for him to express himself that way. Case link
An inmate at Sweden’s toughest prison stressed out a female employee by telling her to get more yoghurt for him. Directly afterwards, she told her co-workers that she felt like killing him, not aware that the communications equipment was still on. He complained to the JO that he “felt threatened and frightened” because of this, and the employee had to go before a disciplinary board that reprimanded her. The Prison Service told her that the matter was “very serious” and that her expression was “completely unacceptable;” the JO wrote, “the conduct warrants especially serious criticism.” Case link.

If this glimpse into the madness that is the Swedish penal system has made you depressed, you might be able to get relief by watching this music video I compiled from assorted material though:
Servin’ hard times – Tough on Crime music video inspired by Joe Arpaio

Hopefully we’ll some day be able to change our penal system back to the way it was before the radical left ruined it during the 1970’s. Until that day, I guess we’ll have to settle with watching American prison documentaries in awe.

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Daniel Hammarberg

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