The highest deportation success rate
Among the 28 cantonal prisons that practice administrative detention in addition to criminal detention, Frambois is a special case. As the result of a concordat between the cantons of Geneva, Neuchâtel and Vaud, Frambois is the first institution dealing solely with measures of constraint. It is severely criticized for its high cost and relative comfort, especially by Zurich, which, conversely, applies tough methods. Yet it should be noted that Frambois has the highest deportation success rate, i.e. 86%, while Zurich just about reaches 80%.
Frambois was inaugurated in June 2004 on the outskirts of Geneva. State Councillor Micheline Spoerri made no secret of the difficulties faced by Frambois: "Its objective is to respond intelligently and humanely to a law that has the unique feature of detaining persons who have committed neither crime nor offence, in order to ensure the successful implementation of deportation. As its operation has not yet been defined in federal law, a special system of administrative detention had to be invented. The challenge was daunting."
Inside this prison world, there are 22 individual cells equipped with a refrigerator and TV. Inmates are free to leave their cells between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. The common room on the ground floor is the central area of Frambois. It is equipped with tables, chairs and table tennis. Inmates spend most of their day there. Discussions, games, meals and even visits by chaplains take place there.
This "Frambois Concept" has a price: the construction cost CHF 4 million, funded 90% by the Confederation. Thirteen people work there. Frambois costs 280 CHF a day per inmate, i.e. nearly CHF 100,000.- a year. With a capacity of 25 inmates, Frambois accommodated 272 people in 2009. "But administrative detention is the hardest of all," says Claude, the director of Frambois. "For a convicted criminal, every day is a step towards freedom, but the prisoners here have absolutely no prospects."
You never know if you are still going to see them alive
Frambois is staffed by a small, devoted team that meets every morning for discussions. Management communicates the dates of deportation or arrival; officers describe what happened during the night. "Some detainees worry us very much. When you say goodnight and lock their cell doors, you wonder if you will see them alive the next morning. We keep a close watch on them," states detention officer Adulaï. Indeed, many inmates suffer from serious depression that may lead to self-mutilation, hunger strikes or suicide attempts.Over the months, ties are forged between staff and inmates. "We sometimes feel the injustice, but we don't discuss it with the inmates. Our job is to keep watch over them. But it's hard when you know that a guy you like is leaving and that you have no right to tell him. The next morning he is gone and you couldn't even say goodbye," admits Denis, a detention officer. When an inmate is being deported, he can be under so much stress that excessive measures are required. Cases of police misconduct have been found and three men have already died in Switzerland.