Deputy Parliamentary Ombudsman Jussi Pajuoja inspected Mikkeli Prison in November 2016. Several serious breaches of legislation were observed in the operation of the prison. The prison had procedures and rules that were not based on legislation and deviated from the practices followed in other prisons.
In April 2017, a follow-up inspection was conducted in Mikkeli Prison to find out what actions the prison had taken as a result of the observations made by the Deputy Parliamentary Ombudsman.
Changes observed in the follow-up inspection
The following are among the changes made in the prison's operation.
Separate wards have been set up for remand prisoners. The possession of trial documents is no longer restricted, which will improve prisoners' possibilities to prepare for court hearings.
Considerable changes have been made in the prison to increase the range of activities prisoners can undertake and to lengthen the time the cell doors are kept open. At the same time, the atmosphere of the prison has become more open.
The prisoners' outdoor recreation conditions, opportunities for physical exercise and use of the library have been improved. Facilities suitable for practising a religion and a crossfit-style gym are about to be completed in the prison, and reading lights have been installed to cells.
The practices regarding leaves of absences, discipline and visitors are no longer different from those followed in other prisons.
Furthermore, the rules and regulations of the prison no longer differ significantly from the rules and regulations of other closed prisons.
The prison has begun to make administrative decisions in line with legislation and provides guidance for appealing them.
A Skype video connection has improved contacts between foreign prisoners and their families.
The relationships between the prisoners and the staff seem to have improved and the atmosphere in the prison was calm.
The biggest problems are found in the operation of the admissions unit, especially regarding matters related to granting access to property. It is also regrettable that the prison has still not managed to set up an appropriate gym, which can be found in all other prisons.
Region Centre has neglected oversight of legality
The Deputy Parliamentary Ombudsman considered that the Region Centre of the Criminal Sanctions Region of Eastern and Northern Finland has neglected its duty to oversee and ensure compliance with legislation in Mikkeli Prison. The Region Centre must improve its operation regarding the oversight of legality and provide the management of the prison with the judicial guidance and advice the management requires.
Inspection minutes of Mikkeli Prison EOAK/3005/2017 have been published in full in Finnish on the Parliamentary Ombudsman's website at http://www.oikeusasiamies.fi/
Further information is available from Senior Legal Adviser Matti Vartia, tel. +358 9 432 3378