Pöschwies Correctional Facility

Teaser Justizvollzugsanstalt P??schwies

Pöschwies Correctional Facility is Switzerland’s largest correctional facility. With its various forms of corrections, it houses men sentenced to terms of at least one year, to a stationary measure, or to indefinite incarceration.

Table of contents

About us

Pöschwies Correctional Facility (JVA, short for Justizvollzugsanstalt Pöschwies) with its 376 places for delinquent males is Switzerland’s largest closed correctional institution. Part of the institution is «Haus Lägern», the «Lägern house» (open custody, day release employment, external accommodation and day release employment) with another 23 places for inmates. The present institution was opened in 1995 and replaced the old Regensdorf Penal Institution («Strafanstalt Regensdorf») built in 1901.

Admitted to the JVA Pöschwies are adult men who have been sentenced to a prison term of at least one year, to a stationary measure, or to indefinite incarceration.

The average stay at the JVA Pöschwies is approximately three years. More than 300 qualified staff members work with various measures with the aim of rehabilitating the inmates and reintegrating them within society. If former inmates lead a crime-free life after their release from prison, this has a positive impact on the security of the society.

Management

Role Name
Head of management JVA Pöschwies Andreas Naegeli
Deputy Walter Mulisch / Thomas Roth
Assistant to the head of management
Franziska Werder
Enforcement Coordination & Social Services
Stefanie Kluser
Supervision & Security
Yves Jaunâtre
Economy & Work
Walter Mulisch
Staff Thomas Roth

Departments

In order to meet with the different requirements of the enforcement of sentences and measures, the JVA Pöschwies is organized in different departments, which are as follows:

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The entry group serves to receive new detainees and to prepare them for their stay in the other prison departments. During this phase the inmates get to know the daily routine of the prison. They are informed about the most important rules, rights and duties. In addition, each prisoner receives his or her own sentence management plan. The length of stay in the entry group is usually three to six months.

The entry group offers 30 places.

The transition department consists of transition section 1 and 2. It is designed to house inmates after their entry phase or after security detention (Security 2) as a preliminary step to regular corrections. Inmates who are not (yet) able to deal with regular corrections in an adequate and conflict-free manner can practice in the transition department with a reduced group life. The aim is to reintegrate them into regular corrections after a certain time.

The transition department has 60 places.

Security 1 is designed to provide safe accommodation for detainees in solitary confinement who pose a danger to staff and/or fellow prisoners. It is also used for the accommodation of detainees with an increased risk of escape, where there would be a danger to the population in case of escape. The security aspect is the main focus of this prison unit. The solitary confinement measure is ordered for a maximum of three months at a time and is regularly reviewed. The detainee should be able to be (re)integrated into the open regime and regular corrections after security 1.

The security detention department 1 offers 7 places.

Security 2 also serves to provide safe accommodation for detainees who pose an increased risk to staff and/or fellow detainees and/or detainees who endanger order and/or are considered to pose an increased risk of escape. Also admitted to Security 2 are newly sentenced inmates with long sentences who are subject to approval or reporting. In general, the daily routine is similar to the one in regular corrections. Here, too, the aim is to reintegrate the prisoners into the open regime and regular corrections.

The security detention department 2 offers 13 places.

Regular corrections are the standard procedure at the JVA Pöschwies. Inmates usually spend the main part of their stay here. They must be able to conduct themselves within the group in a conflict-free and adequately way. They must follow the rules, be willing to work, willing to learn and capable of learning.

In main prison population, there is a wide range of work- and education places, leisure, sports, and education options at the inmates’ disposal. In main prison population, inmates are supported in their social behaviour and enabled to live with impunity.

Main prison population has 192 places within 8 groups.

The integration department is meant for inmates who are not able to cope with a group in main prison population as consequence of either psychological issues or a change in their personality structure in spite of therapy. It is also the department for inmates in an acute crisis.

The integration department has 19 places.

The Old Age & Health department is for inmates who, due to their age, their addiction issues, their somatic illnesses, or to difficult circumstances need a certain protection and more intensive supervision. Inmates receive medical and psychological care. Maximum autonomy and performance are promoted. The department aims at temporary residence, but also at long-term stays.

The old age & health department has 30 places.

The forensic-psychiatric section mainly houses inmates sentenced to stationary measures according to Art. 59 Abs. 3 of the Swiss Penal Code. The main goal of this stationary corrections measure is to reduce the risk of relapse in a sustainable manner. The team in charge at this section works in a crime-preventive and milieu-therapeutic way and consists of staff of the JVA Pöschwies and of members of the Psychiatric-Psychological Service (PPS) of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

The forensic-psychiatric section has 24 places.

At the Lägern House prisoners live in open prison and work-outplacement (AEX, short for German «Arbeitsexternat»). These correction stages usually follow in the final phase of imprisonment, in which detainees have to prove themselves in the learning and practice fields made available to them and are prepared for the final step of reintegration. In addition to the usual support, they can count on assistance in finding work and housing. The Lägern house also offers the full-time residential/working external service (WAEX, short for German «Wohn- und Arbeitsexternat»).

The Lägern House offers 23 places.

Visits

  1. Before you visit

    To visit a detained person, you need a visitation permit.

    Visiting hours

    Mondays through Fridays:
    8 am to 11.30 am
    1 pm to 4 pm

  2. Getting a permit

       

    For a visitation permit, please fill in the form below and mail it to the Justizvollzugsanstalt Pöschwies (in German):

    Your permit has to arrive at the JVA Pöschwies two weeks prior to your visit. We cannot handle your application if we don’t receive it on time.

    If you register for your first visit, you also need to fill the form «personal data»:

    Visitors from abroad must comply with the COVID-19 regulations of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) when entering Switzerland. Appropriate confirmation of entry date and/or quarantine must be obtained in advance and presented on the day of visit. For more information please visit the website of the FOPH.  

  3. Wait for your permit

       

    Advantages:

    • We will review your application as soon as we receive it.
  4. When you visit, please bring with you

      

    Advantages:

    • Identification document (passport or identity card)
    • Visitation permit
    • For visits from abroad: official confirmation of date of entry and/or quarantine

Food parcels

Inmates may receive a food parcel seven times a year. The gross weight per parcel must not exceed five kilograms. Parcels containing prohibited or previously unapproved items, exceeding the gross weight or not arriving on time are returned or disposed. The inmate must cover the costs for this.

Inmates who have not received a parcel within the time limits can buy one for themselves at the prison's internal kiosk for a maximum value of 70 Swiss francs (withdrawal from their personal account).
 

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On these dates the detainees are allowed to receive food parcels:

  • on their birthday
    final submission date: in the birthday month
  • in every even month (February, April, June, August, October, December)
    final submission date: during the entire month

If the birthday happens to coincide with on one of the three remaining package dates, the birthday package can be purchased up to one month in advance or afterwards (the birthday date is decisive).

The gift parcels can be delivered by mail during the above-mentioned periods, or they can be delivered in person during the visiting hours (Monday - Sunday: 8 am to 11.30 am / 1 pm to 4 pm) at the personal checkpoint.

  • non-perishable foods such as dried fruits, chocolate, dried meat, dried sausages (maximum one kilogram), hard cheese, confectionery, coffee, sugar, chocolate powder, etc.
  • two cartons of cigarettes or 200 cigars or 500 grams of tobacco (non-pressed)

  • Alcohol in any form, fresh meat, salmon, smoked fish, soft cheese, spices of any kind, chewing gum
  • Beverages
  • Food in glass packaging or tin and aluminium cans
  • all toiletries, medication
  • perishable foods and foods that need to be chilled, reheated or cooked
  • perishable or home-made pastries, especially flatbread (pite, burek, etc.)
  • foods taken from their sealed and original packaging
  • food supplements, power food in any consistency

There are certain articles that are only handed over to the detainees against authorization. In order for these articles to be admitted, a house letter from the detainee is required in advance.

  • Gifts such as CDs, music cassettes, books, jewellery, clothing, etc.

Supervision & treatment

The JVA Pöschwies has a social service, a medical service, and a spiritual welfare service. The PPS (Psychiatric-Psychological Service) is responsible for psychiatric care.

Social work

After entering the JVA or the Lägern House, each prisoner is assigned to a social worker. This person usually accompanies the detainee throughout his stay and supports him in various areas. These include: 

  • individual work with detainees (e.g. entry interviews, targeted interventions, planning of the exit situation)
  • case-related work within the institution (e.g. mediation in case of problems in everyday prison life)
  • case-related work with field offices (e.g. mediation assistance when contacting relatives, authorities, insurance companies, etc.)

Medical care

The JVA Pöschwies has its own medical and dental service for the basic medical and dental care of the inmates. For emergencies and more complex medical treatments, the inmates are admitted to hospitals in the region or to the guard station of the Inselspital Bern.

Psychiatric care

Basic psychiatric care for inmates is one of the core tasks of the Psychiatric-Psychological Service (PPS). The PPS thus offers consultation hours at the JVA Pöschwies. Main objectives are the treatment of pre-existing psychiatric conditions and of detention-related crises.

Pastoral care

The pastoral care supports inmates in dealing with the difficulties of life in prison. It helps them in case of a personal crisis and accompanies them during the process of rehabilitation and in dealing with guilt.

Christian pastoral care

Individual conversations are essential to pastoral work. It is not only a matter of the inmate’s religious denomination – at the core of this work are the competences of the pastoral workers who build and nourish a trustful relationship with the inmates.

The pastoral workers lead Sunday mass and are always making an effort to initiate and implement various group offers such as hip hop or choir projects, or classic bible discussion groups. There is also the option of conducting mourning ceremonies for inmates who are not permitted to be present at a funeral service of a relative or friend outside the JVA Pöschwies.

Muslim pastoral care

At the JVA Pöschwies, imams are at the inmates’ disposal for pastoral individual or group conversations. Mass is held in German, Arabic, Turkish, Albanian, and English, because the Muslim community in Switzerland and thus at the JVA is very heterogeneous.

Among the important tasks of the imams are leading the Friday prayer and organizing interreligious celebrations. On Friday evenings, inmates have the opportunity to recite the Quran in Arabic together with the imam and to translate its meaning into German.

The imams participate in regular meetings with pastors and the head of prison management.

Education and Training

Working is mandatory for inmates. Depending on their suitability, they have the opportunity to complete an apprenticeship at the workshops. The JVA Pöschwies offers various vocational educations. Classes and exams take place on the premises of the penitentiary. External teachers and vocational trainers teach the inmates.

Possible training and qualification programmes

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The JVA Pöschwies also offers various vocational training programmes. School lessons and the qualification procedures (final examinations and assessments) take place on the premises of the JVA Pöschwies. Specialized classes and general knowledge classes are taught by external teachers as well as by instructors of the JVA Pöschwies. The detainees may choose from the following basic education programmes:

Basic Education with certificate (two years)

Baker / pastry chef, gardener (ornamental plants), kitchen employee, metalworking practitioner, tyre practitioner, company practitioner, print media practitioner (print finishing), joinery practitioner

Basic education with Federal Vocational Education and Training (VET) Diploma (three or four years)

Fully certified baker and confectioner, maintenance technician, gardener, cook, metal worker, carpenter

Since 1 January 2011, the nationwide project «Education in Prison» (BiSt, short for German «Bildung im Strafvollzug») has also been offered at JVA Pöschwies. Basic education enables inmates to close gaps in their schooling and improve their general knowledge. Teachers teach different learning groups with up to six inmates on half a day per week.  

Students of language and computer science courses have the opportunity to obtain an internationally recognised diploma or certificate. Every year, numerous inmates take advantage of this offer and complete their studies with various German diplomas, Cambridge exams and ECDL tests.

Some detainees participate in correspondence courses offered by various educational institutions. The students enrol in a wide variety of classes such as language classes, Bible courses, courses in graphical design, information technology and accounting.

Work

Inmates are obliged to work in accordance with the provisions of the Swiss Penal Code.

The prisoners are employed in various in-house production, service and supply companies such as locksmith's shops, joinery, gardening, metal construction, assembly, bakery or kitchen.

On the one hand, the businesses in the JVA Pöschwies directly serve the operation and maintenance of the institution. At the same time they carry out orders from private individuals, companies and other public institutions.

Leisure

Sports

Sports play an important role in the daily detention routine. Because inmates spend the major part of the day in their cells, physical activities during leisure hours are very popular. There are various gyms available in the living groups. In regular corrections, inmates may use the gym one night per week. During breaks, they may use the hard sports area. At the sports hall, there are supervised evening sport classes. Depending on the weather, inmates may also use the lawn.

Soccer Club

The JVA Pöschwies has a prisoners' soccer team. The FC Inter Pöschwies is coached by two employees. On average, up to 15 football matches are played annually on Saturday afternoons against foreign teams. Third or fourth league teams, senior or play-off teams come to play against the FC Inter Pöschwies. The team has also played against teams from the Super League (FC Zurich, Grasshopper Club, FC Schaffhausen and FC Aarau).

Leisure course

The detainees may take a language, computer science, yoga, modelling or guitar course in their free time. They also have the opportunity to participate in a chess, card game, or painting group or in conversation groups.

Events

Music, theatre or circus groups perform at four to five events per year for the inmates of the JVA Pöschwies.

Detention leave

Release on temporary licence & resettlement release

The so-called release on temporary licence (in German: «Ausgang») and resettlement release (in German: «Beziehungsurlaub») serve the reintegration of the detainees. They help to prepare the prisoners for further stages of more loose corrections (for example, for open custody). This way, prisoners who may have spent many years in prison are to be gradually lead back to their future living environment in freedom. They are to be given the opportunity to prove themselves «outside».

Special release

Inmates are entitled to special releases (in German: «Sachurlaub») that allow them to take care of legal, personal, or business-related issues that require their attendance outside the institution. Reasons for special releases may include weddings (their own or next of kin), baptisms or similar events in the life of the inmate’s children, funeral services, visits to the authorities or personal interviews (shortly before release).

Residual risk

The residual detention leaves of releases on temporary licence is assessed by the persons responsible for enforcement (enforcement agency and referral authority). They decide at what point and under what conditions they are prepared to accept the risk of renewed offences and violations of the ordered conditions, which can never be ruled out completely.

For all detention leaves, time and location constraints apply.

Andreas Naegeli

Head of prison management

Foto von Andreas Naegeli, Direktor der JVA Pöschwies

Contact

Pöschwies Correctional Facility More information

Address

Roosstrasse 49
Postfach
8105 Regensdorf
Route (Google maps)