Prisoners offered teeth bleaching in jail

The Local Austria
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Prisoners offered teeth bleaching in jail
Image by David Dewitt"

Prisoners in Sonnberg jail in Lower Austria are offered cosmetic treatments to have their teeth whitened, according to a report in the Heute newspaper.


A parliamentary question was posed to the Minister of Health by the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ), asking if a teeth whitening procedure was currently offered in any Austrian prisons, and whether this was financed by tax-payers.

The report went on to note that the question has not yet been answered, however the paper did a little digging of its own, and found out that teeth whitening is indeed available, at least in one prison.

The newspaper went directly to the chief dentist of the prison service, who confirmed that the procedure was offered to prisoners in one location, but they had to pay €90 for it.

The dentist was unwilling to reveal which prison was offering the treatment, but Heute did further research and claims the prison is Sonnberg, which in the past has operated a call-centre to offer 'vocational training' to its prisoners.

The state employs prisoners in various areas, including the kitchen and joinery, where they can earn money which can then be used to purchase dental treatments such as teeth whitening.


Prison Facts

Inmates are obliged to work in Austrian prisons. Therefore prisons run workshops and businesses in about 50 locations, and sell the products, including Christmas gifts, through a web site.
Prisoners are also able to buy other products, including erection medications.  It's not entirely clear why such a medicine is needed in prison.
For their work, inmates receive a salary, of which 75 percent is withheld as a contribution to the execution of the sentence.  The rest is divided, with one half of the money (12.5 percent) used as pocket money during imprisonment, and the other half saved for after their release. 
In addition the inmates contribute to unemployment insurance and are therefore entitled to receive unemployment benefits after their release from prison.
The average prison population in 2011 was 8,816.  As of September 1st, 2011 4,027 of inmates (46 percent) were non-Austrians, 572 were women (6 percent) and 149 adolescents.
Prison Costs
In 2013, there were 3,892 people working in the Austrian prison system, with 3,124 employed as prison guards. The remainder represent different professions, including doctors, psychologists, pastors, sociologists, trainers, social workers, therapists, nurses and administration staff. 
The average cost per inmate per day in prison in 2011 was €99.  The total amount spent over the year was €373 million.
The Austrian prison system consists of the following institutions:
  • 7 penal institutions for men - Stein, Graz-Karlau, Garsten, Suben, Sonnberg, Hirtenberg, Wien-Simmering
  • 1 penal institution for adolescents - Gerasdorf
  • 1 penal institutions for women - Schwarzau
  • 3 institutions for involuntary detention (Maßnahmenvollzug) - Göllersdorf, Wien-Mittersteig, Wien-Favoriten
  • 15 court institutions („gerichtliche Gefangenenhäuser“) - Eisenstadt, Wien-Josefstadt, Wr. Neustadt, St. Pölten, Krems, Korneuburg, Graz-Jakomini, Leoben, Klagenfurt, Linz, Wels, Ried i.I., Salzburg, Innsbruck, Feldkirch
  • The Vienna juvenile court - Wiener Jugendgerichtshilfe


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