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More mentally ill criminals - Hamburg must expand clinics

The number of mentally ill offenders in the Hamburg correctional facility has tripled in the past 20 years.

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More mentally ill criminals - Hamburg must expand clinics

The number of mentally ill offenders in the Hamburg correctional facility has tripled in the past 20 years. According to the social authorities, 350 patients were accommodated in February. At the end of 2002, the number of inmates in the correctional facility was 116. Ten years ago, in early 2013, the number of people accommodated had already risen to 270. The Senate expects a further increase and is planning to expand the clinic capacities.

In the past three years, all offenders who were admitted by courts to a psychiatric hospital or a rehabilitation center could have been admitted to the Hamburg correctional facility, said a spokesman for the social security authority. In Berlin at the beginning of February, a clan member convicted of a money transporter robbery was released from prison due to a lack of space in the correctional facility.

There are also significant capacity problems in the Hanseatic city. People who are only temporarily admitted to a clinic as suspects of a serious crime by the court often have to sit in the pre-trial detention center in Hamburg. Between the beginning of 2022 and the end of February 2023, 58 people were accommodated "in administrative assistance" in this way, as the Senate announced in response to a small request from the left-wing citizenship deputy Cansu Özdemir. They spent between 3 and 132 days in the detention center when they were supposed to be treated in a clinic.

Lawyers consider this practice to be questionable. Since 2020, the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court has ordered in twelve cases that those affected must be transferred to a psychiatric clinic, according to another response from the Senate to a small question from the CDU citizenship deputy Richard Seelmaecker.

Hamburg currently has 335 accommodation places in the forensic prison, 325 of which are in the Asklepios Klinik Nord/Ochsenzoll and 10 in a new ward in the central hospital of the Hamburg prison in the Holstenglacis remand facility. This year, 40 places are to be added in Ochsenzoll, next year 10. Another ward with 8 places should also be set up in the central hospital, but there is a lack of staff.

Hamburg also wants to expand the clinics in the coming years. "Since a trend reversal in the increase in occupancy in forensic institutions (...) is currently not foreseeable for Hamburg and nationwide (...), the competent authority assumes that further capacities for forensic institutions will be required by 2030," said the Senate's response to the left -Inquiry.

The total number of patients has significantly exceeded capacity since at least the beginning of 2021. However, as the answer to the CDU inquiry further shows, there were always 40 to 50 patients on “therapeutic vacation” on the key dates.

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