Historic, dilapidated German prison complex evacuated | News | DW | 07.07.2016
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Historic, dilapidated German prison complex evacuated

Inmates have been evacuated from a prison in western Germany after experts determined the 19th-century complex to be unsafe. Officials had planned to build a new jail but couldn't find a suitable location.

Evacuation began Thursday at Münster's prison, one of Germany's oldest, after experts determined that parts of the building were in danger of collapsing. Authorities are working to empty the prison by the weekend.

Buses under escort by prison guards began leaving Thursday as more than 500 inmates were transferred to nearby facilities.

The oldest parts of Münster's prison date back to 1853. It has been in nearly continuous use ever since. The prison complex in North Rhine-Westphalia has earned international recognition for its prize-winning prison library.

But fears that maintenance has not kept apace in the more than 160-year-old institution have caused authorities to transfer the prison population to other facilities.

Prison Warden Carsten Heim told the German DPA news agency that the evacuation order was unavoidable. He said steps are being taken to ensure that addiction treatment for some inmates is not disrupted by the move.

"We must quickly ensure that these services are also offered in the replacement locations," Heim said Thursday.

Justice Ministry authorities have planned a new prison for the city of Münster but have yet to find a suitable site. Due to its architectural value, a number of television series and films have been filmed on the prison grounds.

jar/sms (AP, dpa)

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