The Liberals Ask for Bigger Prisons  

NEOS party head urges new prisons to be built because of overcrowded jail cells.

In a surprise move for the Liberal NEOS, party head Christoph Wiederkehr has announced demands for a new prison to be built “as soon as possible,” to replace the current Justizanstalt Josefstadt (Criminal justice institution Josefstadt) which has been overcrowded and understaffed. The institution was built in 1831 after being commissioned by Kaiser Franz I. and has since been refurbished and expanded many times. Nicknamed “Grey House” by the Viennese, because of the grey uniform’s the inmates once wore. However, the current building is housing more that 1200 “permanent” convicts in a space designed for about 1,000. “The Josefstadt Prison is having a hard time keeping up,” Wiederkehr told the press August 6. More prisons are needed.

“It is a powder keg”

In recent years, the prison workforce has declined, with staffers either moved to different institutions or dismissed entirely, leading to increased violence both among the inmates and also towards the wardens and guards. “It is a powder keg,” argues Wiederkehr. A new prison could alleviate the burden on the Josefstadt facility, allowing inmates to be more spread out and ease efforts and tensions inside the institution. Directing his appeal to the federal government, Wiederkehr has asked that the city council of Vienna forwards his petition to the higher ups.

Public debate about prisons

While several reasons have been cited for the overcrowding, the NEOS’ point to the lengthy court proceedings in the Austrian state court. Following the press conference on Aug. 6, the criminal advisory panel for the Judge’s Association voiced its support on Radio Wien, stating it was relieved that these problems have finally entered the political arena and are being discussed.

There are currently no plans for a new prison or expansion of the site.



Emre Günes
Emre Günes is Viennese born and raised with Turkish roots. After finishing his international school he got a knack for writing in English and studied Journalism at the University of Westminster in London. He previously interned at a couple of import/export companies as a teen and then even at the Radio Station of the Austrian National Broadcaster (ORF) until completing his military service in 2018. He is now an intern and writes for Metropole while studying his masters for English Linguistics.


You like local independent journalism in English? So do we!

To keep providing you with current news, insights, opinion and Schmäh about our shared hometown, we need your help.
We chose to provide our daily coverage for free, because we believe in equal access to information. And we want to be independent from our advertisers, so we can deliver the news that you want. With your help, we can keep giving you the open, independent journalism you deserve.

Don’t let the advertisers win!


If you’re able, please support Metropole today from as little as €1
or choose an amount:

RECENT Articles

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Empress Elisabeth “Sissi” of Austria

Better known by her nickname “Sissi,” she has captured the hearts of the public ever since she was immortalized by actress Romy Schneider in a trilogy of 1950s romantic comedies.

Donald Tusk’s Clear Voice

Welcoming to Scotland, the perennial European is not about to leave the political stage.

“Mein Fall” | Austrian Writer Tells of Sexual Abuse

As a choirboy at the Zwettl Monastery in the 1960s, novelist Josef Haslinger was regularly assaulted by his superiors. Now he wrote about it.

Passing the Baton

The Vienna Theatre Project meditates on MLK’s last night on earth in Katori Hall’s “The Mountaintop.”

5 Anti-Valentine’s Day Movies | It’s Difficult to Love

If the most saccharine of holidays is starting to get to you, here are five sobering – some would say more realistic – portrayals of human emotion.

Keeping It Together

Ken Loach takes on the human cost of the gig economy in his latest film, "Sorry We Missed You".

Doskozil’s Big Win For the SPÖ in Burgenland

After a disappointing year, the Social Democrats won a whopping 50% of the vote in last week’s state elections.

2019 Was a Record-Breaking Year in Vienna Tourism

Visitors are pleased with Vienna as a travel destination, with 9 out of 10 stating they would recommend it to others.