Date of Decision:3/26/2018
Enquiry initiated by the Parliamentary Ombudsmen regarding the Swedish Prison and Probation Service’s options on differentiating the treatment of female inmates in its facilities, etc.
In response to a series of Opcat inspections of the Swedish Prison and Probation Service’s women’s prison facilities that revealed a number of areas where the treatment of female and male inmates appears to place female inmates at a disadvantage. An enquiry was initiated to further investigate, inter alia, the risk assessment team’s (Riksmottagningen) activities and the potential outcomes of currently available opportunities for differentiating the treatment of women within the Swedish Prison and Probation Service’s facilities. In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsman states that the Swedish Prison and Probation Service has failed to offer equal correctional opportunities for men and women, and finds that women, in many respects, are being disadvantaged by the existing regulations as well as by the restrictions in the facility’s physical environment and enforcement conditions. The Parliamentary Ombudsman maintains that even though she understands that the low number of female inmates constitutes a challenge for authorities, it is not acceptable for female inmates to be subject to enforcement that is inferior to that for male inmates. Female inmates undergo a closer examination than male inmates during the risk assessment. The Parliamentary Ombudsman states that, in and of itself, this is a positive for improving the chances that an individual will have access to personalised enforcement, but instead, a lack of resources leads to delay and deterioration in enforcement conditions for many inmates. The Parliamentary Ombudsman states that it is not acceptable for a group of inmates, for which the Swedish Prison and Probation Service has identified as having particularly complex needs meriting further investigation, is instead subject to poor enforcement conditions due to a lack of investigative resources. The Parliamentary Ombudsman therefore calls into question if, under the current conditions, the special provisions for female inmates are justified. Further, the Parliamentary Ombudsman states that there is a clear need for increased options to differentiate the treatment of female inmates in the correctional system. The Parliamentary Ombudsman therefore calls on the authority that oversees security classification for female facilities to prioritise efforts to create increased opportunity to differentiate the treatment of female inmates. The Swedish Prison and Probation Service also needs to prioritise the development of customised facilities and treatment efforts based on female inmates’ unique needs. The Parliamentary Ombudsman states that changes need to be made in the Swedish Prison and Probation Service’s operations so that the authority will be able to offer equal correctional opportunities for women and men and so that it succeeds in its task of meeting women’s individual needs and facilitates their reintegration into society. The Parliamentary Ombudsman welcomes the authority’s efforts in starting several initiatives and reviews concerning issues that are relevant to the case. The Parliamentary Ombudsman intends to monitor and follow up on these issues.