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Drug Free Zone in Hirtenberg Prison

Quality level: 1


The drug free zone in Hirtenberg Prison provides an improved and safer prison environment for prisoners and staff. The approach tackles prevention of drug use in prison, and targets both drug users and non-drug users.

Type of intervention:
interventions in the criminal justice system
assistance to drug users in prison
Type of approach:
Target group:
Age group:
Annual coverage:
Substances addressed:
cannabis, opiates, alcohol, cocaine and derivatives, inhalants/solvents
Evaluation type:
outcome evaluation
Start date:
End date:

Overall objective

To prevent drug use by prisoners, to reduce conflicts and to improve working conditions of staff by implementing a drug free zone within the prison.


The introduction of a drug-free zone in Hirtenberg Prison started on a trial basis in 1994 in order to deal with existing problems (conflicts, violence, drug abuse/misuse) . The British "Downview Project" was adapted to local conditions. The concept underlying the drug-free zone in Hirtenberg Prison is based on a mixture of stimulation (privileges, improved quality of life) and monitoring (urine tests). At start, each prisoner must sign a declaration together with a chosen staff member promising to stay drug free and to stick to the appointed conditions. Implementation was undertaken in various stages, with slight adjustments based on experience gained. The programme aims to prevent drug use of prisoners, to reduce conflicts within the prison and to improve working conditions of the staff. The prisoners are supported to stay drug free by provision of a protected environment. More specifically the drug free zone also aims to increase the compliance of prisoners to improve the life quality and wellbeing of inmates as well as to strengthen their autonomy and to increase the number of prisoners included in employment. Besides the ongoing documentation, a thesis on the well-being of inmates with diary method was carried out. Results of an external evaluation commissioned by the Ministry of Justice are available since Autumn 2000. A comparison of the results of a survey carried out before the implementation and the results of ongoing documentation indicate that the programme has been successful in achieving its goals. It shows improved well-being of the prisoners and job satisfaction of the staff, high degree of compliance, decrease in conflicts and aggression, increase in the productivity of working units and a fall in the number of prisoners not working. This was also confirmed by the results of the external evaluation. Since the start in October 1995, the drug-free zone has been constantly expanded, in response to requests from prisoners.

The PDF contains the full intervention description including additional contact information.


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Page last updated: Friday, 20 January 2012