Drahonice, North Bohemia, July 3 (CTK) – The prison in Drahonice, which was turned into a detention facility for illegal migrants in 2015-16, reopened on Monday because Czech prisons are crowded, Prison Service head Petr Dohnal told journalists.

Czech prisons were overcrowded for a long time and the situation improved only thanks to a broad presidential amnesty in 2013. The Drahonice compound was the only prison facility that closed down after the amnesty.

Dohnal said the current situation in prisons is similar to that before the amnesty, with nearly 23,000 people being imprisoned in the country.

By the end of the year, the capacity of the present prisons is to be increased. Moreover, a new prison for about 800 inmates is to be built, possibly in southern Bohemia, in future, Dohnal said.

In the past, Drahonice was a prison for men who were serving rather low sentences. As the number of female convicts increased, it will be a women’s prison now. “There are roughly 1500 convicted women at present, we do not have enough space for them,” Dohnal said.

The first 32 female inmates will arrive in Drahonice from Svetla nad Sazavou, central Bohemia, on July 12. The prison can house up to 194 inmates. Originally, its capacity was 250, but it was lowered in order to give more space to each inmate, four square meters, while in other prisons an inmate mostly has 3 m2.

The prison is to have a playing field, an outdoor fitness area, a telephone line, a television. An online connection is not considered.

The reopened facility is a part of the Nove Sedlo prison, which is about 30 km from Drahonice.

The Prison Service expects the female inmates to get jobs. They are likely to be employed by local firms and municipalities.

The reconstruction of the prison cost nine million crowns. The costs were lowered by more than one million thanks to 200 inmates who took part in the work.

“Time passes here more quickly than in prison,” one of the convicts, Josef Provaznik, said.

Jiri Chaloupecky, mayor of the nearby Lubenec, welcomed the reopening of the prison because his municipality cooperated well with it. “We will have new job offers, services and deliveries will get new orders,” he said.

The Drahonice prison is to have 106 employees.