The prison hospital in Fröndenberg (JVK) is one of the largest and most secure of its kind. The security standards correspond to those of a normal prison.
For this reason, it may only be used for the treatment of prisoners; it is not available for civil purposes. Prisoners from all over North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) are brought to the prison hospital for their treatment.
The JVK was opened in November 1986; before prisoners had to be brought to normal hospitals for treatment and guarded there around the clock. Due to the high population density, NRW has the most inmates within Germany and it was economically advantageous to open a hospital only for the treatment of prisoners.
In the JVK it can also be determined whether the person to be detained is liable to imprisonment. In the past, many convicted criminals had tried to escape their prison sentences on the grounds of incapacity. This has no longer been possible since the Fröndenberg JVK was opened.
In the JVK, nurses also take on the role of social contact persons. Since medical interventions and ward stays are often permanent, the otherwise isolated prisoners often seek social interaction during the treatments. For this the nurses do not receive any additional training.
What does everyday life in a prison hospital look like and how does it differ from everyday life in a normal hospital? Is it omnipresent that one is in a prison or can the impression be created that one is in a normal hospital?
The specially secured detention area (BgH) has only a simple mattress and pyjamas. This is to prevent the prisoner from injuring himself. The detention room is video monitored around the clock when a prisoner is brought into it. Two nurses prepare the treatment of the prisoners. Every morning the medication for the prisoners is prepared and handed out to the patients. Everything that happens during the shift is documented in the Optiplan so that the shift that is taking over is aware of it. Mr. S. had his right leg amputated in an operation. Leg amputations are very frequent operations in the JVK, because many prisoners have partial occlusive diseases, which can be caused by a past of drug abuse, among other things. After a coccyx operation, the wound must be cleaned daily so that it heals from the inside out. The prisoner wears some tattoos, which suggest that he is in solidarity with the right scene. On his shoulder is a portrait of a soldier from the Second World War with the inscription: „Better to die standing than to live kneeling.“ View from a window to the hospital‘s courtyard. The prisoners have the opportunity to take the legally required leave once a day, in a group or alone, depending on the security measures. In addition, once a day they have the opportunity to visit their fellow inmates within the ward, if safety measures and health status do not require isolation. All doors in the JVK are always closed. Mirrors hang on some corners to keep a better view of the corridors. The hospital information system triggers an alarm throughout the prison if a nurse is attacked by an inmate. Every morning the staff exchanges their own key and mobile phone for the prison keys and the HIS at the prison entrance. Private mobile phones may not be taken to the wards due to security reasons. A nurse gives Mr. S. a new infusion after he has had his right leg amputated in an operation. After a leg amputation the prisoners get a prosthesis and are only released back to the prison when it is properly fitted and the prisoner can cope with it. Even after release many prisoners are driven to the JVK for physiotherapy. After a very complicated fracture, the bandage is changed for the first time after the operation. Mr. P. was already in open prison and prisoner on release. Since he injured himself while parkour running and every prisoner in NRW is treated in the JVK, he has to go to the JVK for the time of his treatment as prisoner. During the time in the JVK he is again in closed prison. For many inmates in open prison this is a big change. The scar after a right leg amputation is cleaned and bandaged again. In the patient‘s room, the staff must wear additional protective clothing and then disinfect everything, as the patient is infected with the hospital pathogen. Special protective clothing for prison officers is on standby for emergencies. The specially secured detention area (BgH) has only a simple mattress and pyjamas. This is to prevent the prisoner from injuring himself. The detention room is video monitored around the clock when a prisoner is brought into it. After treatment the prisoners are released back to their correctional facility. The treatment can only last a few days - but in the case of more serious injuries it can last several months. It happens again and again that inmates delay their recovery on purpose, because they prefer to be in the JVK rather than in their cell in the prison. In 1984 the original hospital in Fröndenberg was rebuilt for the treatment of prisoners and officially opened in November 1986. In 2011 the security measures were intensified. Another 4m high fence was built around the wall. Video surveillance systems and improved external lighting were also added. After release from prison many prisoners have to get used to the fact that they need to wait for medical appointments such as MRI, X-ray or medical examinations by a specialist. They are not used to wait while in JVK. Ms. S. treats an inmate with full body burns. Since most of the skin could not be saved, a lot of skin had to be transplanted. The change of bandages takes up to 2 hours. During this time Ms. S. also takes on the role of a contact person, as there are often intimate and open conversations with the inmates. The prisoner repeats several times that he would rather be dead than endure this pain and be in prison. Again and again he says that he did not commit the crime. Mr. S. has spent almost half of his life in prison and often introduces himself with his cell number. Yet he says: „Home is outside. Full stop.“ He often ends sentences with the statement full stop. The doctor and the nurses discuss the treatment of a prisoner. Mr. O. is bandaged in the bandage room. He has an open fracture on his right leg through which you can see down to the bone. Yesterday he became a father and is looking forward to seeing his child for the first time soon. Each room is equipped with a table, a television and beds. There are both twin and single rooms. Allocation is based on, among other things, the prisoner‘s prison or medical isolation requirements, gender, age, or whether or not a prisoner smokes. Between the hospital building and the prison wall, the many cameras indicate the constant video surveillance. The prison hospital in Fröndenberg is considered one of the most secure of its kind. In the past, all escape attempts were prevented.