The Law of the Jungle Behind Bars  -
Ways to Get Away from Violence

Premiere broadcast: WDR TV, 2 Sept. 2007, 4:25 p.m.
Reruns: MDR TV, 24 Jan. 2008, 10:35 p.m.
PHOENIX, 13 March 2008, 9:45 p.m.
A film by Valentin Thurn and Britta Dombrowe
Length: 29 minutes

In November 2006, inmates at the Jugendgefängnis Siegburg, a juvenile penal institution, tormented a co-inmate for hours and eventually killed him. The penitentiary staff never noticed the agonizing ordeal, despite the lengthy period of time involved. The deed casted a harsh light on the conditions at prisons for juveniles in Germany: Cells are overcrowded, an acute personnel deficit prevails, inmates are locked away for up to 23 hours a day and left to themselves.
Ufuk, 19 years old, is well aware of this. He has been sentenced to Siegburg, the “toughest pen for juvies”, as he puts it. Ufuk knows what he is talking about: At 14 he already had 140 criminal offences on his record. He’s a ‘regular’ at German prisons and knows the rules that reign behind the walls. “When you start doing time, the first thing that happens is you get checked out. Either they respect you or you have to make them respect you. The only law here is the law of the jungle.” On the other hand, German penal law states that “In the course of executing a sentence in incarceration, the prisoner is supposed to gain the ability to lead a life of social responsibility without criminal offences in the future.”
The film shows the causes of growing brutality behind bars and presents new methods in imprisoning juveniles.

Video (approx. 5 min.(German)) 020907.phtml