The Slovenia Times

Slovenian prisons lack 15% of prison officers


Ljubljana - Prisons lack more than 100 prison officers to meet the security standards, a problem exacerbated by low pay and low interest in this career. The Prison Administration employs 554 prison officers and 16 candidates for the job, while it should have as many as 672 under the 2018 staffing standards, Justice Ministry data shows.

There are currently 29 job advertisements out for new prison officers, but usually not all vacancies are filled. To attract and motivate potential candidates, the Prison Administration reaches out to them through presentations at various career fairs.

The shortage of prison officers is also an issue when they have to escort inmates to institutions outside prisons, including courts.

It often happens that escorts have to be cancelled, albeit as the last resort as prisons help each other and managerial police staff from prison also help out.

Last year, prison officers escorted inmates to various institutions almost 10,900 times, nearly 4,350 times to courts, shows the Prison Administration's 2021 report.

A total of 456 escorts were meanwhile cancelled, up 17% from 2020, of which the vast majority (439) to the court; the highest number was recorded in 2019, at 707.

When there is no possibility to secure a prison officer, the prisoner takes part in court proceedings via video link.

This option has been significantly facilitated by the latest changes to the criminal procedure act, resulting in 188 such video conferences last year.

"We made a major breakthrough in this area by equipping all prisons, except open wards, with modern remote communication systems. We will continue to strengthen the possibility of videoconferencing in the future", the ministry has told the STA.

The shortage of prison officers is being partly addressed in a bill the opposition Democrats (SDS) have filed to change the act on the enforcement of criminal sanctions, which the government supports, although it believes the bill should be further changed in some aspects during the legislative procedure.

The bill provides a systemic legal basis for measures needed to prevent the spread of contagious diseases or in other emergencies, such as incidents that may lead to a heightened security situation in prisons. It also introduces new rules on pay due to increased workload.

The bill moreover regulates the legal basis for linking criminal records with the SPOT site which enables electronic communication with sate agencies, but the ministry says that this provision should be supplemented to ensure a comprehensive overhaul of the criminal records IT system.

Another major issues Slovenian prisons have faced since 2005 is over-crowdedness, which the government plans to address by building a new prison for men in Dobrunje and renovating the prison for women in Ig, both on the outskirts of Ljubljana.


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