Prisoners Strike to Protest Furlough Rules
STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) _ Hundreds of inmates refused to report to their prison jobs Monday to protest rules denying long-term convicts home leave without a guard.
″We are absolutely willing to take our punishments, but we want a chance to rehabilitate in society,″ said Jens Esbjornsson, an inmate in Stockholm’s high security Kumla prison.
″We don’t have any possibility to do this unless we have the same benefits as other prisoners, including furloughs,″ he said on Swedish radio.
At least 460 prisoners in six prisons were on strike, prison officials said. In Kumla, 150 of the 220 inmates refused to leave their cells until prison authorities agreed to negotiate. Prison officials said they had no power to change the rules, which the government sets.
Under the rules, inmates sentenced to at least two years for drug offenses or four years for violent crimes are denied unaccompanied leave until six months before their scheduled releases.
Under Sweden’s lenient prison system, inmates routinely are granted regular visits home and conjugal visits at prison.