Germany is about to run out of prison cells due to the unprecedented migrant influx in the country.
Foreigners make up 9 percent of Germany’s population, but close to 30 percent of its prison population. The number is even higher among incarcerated people awaiting trial, as there is a risk they will leave the country.
The states need to hire more people and open new facilities to cope, according to Federal Union of Prison Staff (BSBD) President Anton Bachl.
“The wave of refugees is not without consequence for the German prisons,” Bachl said in Thursday’s edition of Neue Osnabrucker Zeitung (NOZ), “because more than one million refugees have come in the past year, with 30,000 criminal cases in process.”
Bachl expects these cases will result in at least 2,000 prison sentences.
The sexual assaults in Cologne on New Year’s Eve are another contributing factor to the problem. While less than 10 percent of the around 1,000 perpetrators have been caught, it has put more pressure on authorities to act. Immigrants from North Africa are particularly over-represented in statistics, both for the Cologne attacks and in overall crime.
North Rhine-Westphalia, the state where Cologne is located, has even banned immigration from Morocco to cope with the problem. The state is now hosting 11,149 prisoners on space intended for 10,128 detainees.
Peter Brock, state chairman of BSBD in North Rhine-Westphalia, said a lack of officers will force thousands of overtime hours in the near future.
“The police make more raids, judges go harder on offenders and impose pretrial detention because the public pressure has grown,” Brock told NOZ.
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