The first two patients will be sent to the branch of the National Center for Prevention of Dyssocial Behavior, which was established in Czersk (Pomorskie). The facility was established to relieve the overcrowded center in Gostynin, where the perpetrators of the most serious crimes who have served a prison sentence, but should continue to be isolated, are directed to. The city authorities and residents are against the location of the facility in the center of Czersk.
Ryszard Wardeński, director of the National Center for Preventing Dissocial Behavior (KOZZD) in Gostynin, said that on Monday (January 24) the first two patients will be admitted to the center in Czersk. They will be transferred from the Regional Center for Forensic Psychiatry in Starogard Gdański, where they stayed due to the overcrowding of the center in Gostynin. By the end of January, about 12 people are planned to be transferred, and ultimately – 20 people. This may change, however, as the Ministry of Health announced that patients will be admitted “successively and according to the structural capabilities of the center”.
However, the city authorities and residents oppose the establishment of a branch of the center in Czersk.
– The decision was made not only without consulting our community, but also without any information about such plans, said Przemysław Biesek-Talewski, the mayor of Czersk. – The residents, as well as myself, found out about it after the fact, that is after signing the contract for the lending of the prison facility in our city for the center – he added.
Overcrowded center in Gostynin
KOZZD in Gostynin has been operating since 2014 Perpetrators of the most serious crimes who have served a prison sentence are sent there, but in the opinion of the directors of prisons, they should still be isolated, because due to sexual preferences or personality disorders, they may commit further crimes. The court decides on placement in Gostynin on the basis of expert opinions. One of the center’s most famous patients was a pedophile Mariusz T.who went there after serving 25 years in prison for the murder of four boys.
The center has been overcrowded for a long time – over 90 people are staying in it, although it has been designed for a maximum of 60 patients. The problem was to be solved by the act passed in mid-April last year, which increased the limit of expenses for its operation. Additional funds are to allow for the long-planned expansion of the center, but its branch was to be opened first.
The location negotiations were conducted jointly by two ministries – the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Health. The choice fell on the closed external branch of the penitentiary facility in Koronowo, located in Czersk in Pomerania. At the beginning of July, an agreement was concluded under which the Ministry of Justice granted the facility for 35 months.
Opposition of the Czersk authorities and residents
The location of the center aroused controversy among residents – it is located in the immediate vicinity of kindergartens and schools. The negative position was expressed, among others, by Czersk City Council.
– I also sent several letters, among others to the minister of health and the minister of justice, presenting in them arguments against the location of such an institution in the very center of the city, in the vicinity of a kindergarten, schools and a housing estate. Unfortunately, everything indicates that the center will be launched soon – said the mayor of Czersk at the beginning of January.
The representative of the group of protesters, Beata Czaplewska-Łazowska, emphasized that the residents had sent a petition to the Ministry of Health with two thousand signatures, but had not received a reply.
– We are opposed to the establishment of a branch of the National Dissocial Behavior Center in Czersk, because the current law gives the possibility of discharging a person from the center at any time, if the results of the therapeutic procedure and the behavior of this person justify the assumption that their further stay in the center is not necessary – he explains.
The resident emphasized that patients who – according to the Minister of Health – had a chance to return to life in society, were to be referred to the center in Czersk. As she added, the ministry is preparing for a comprehensive amendment to the law on KOZZD. – According to the statements of the representatives of the Ministry of Health, the scope of the changes is to concern the possibility of granting temporary permits to leave the center and health services provided outside the center – she said.
Barbed wire, cameras and bars on the windows
The difficult situation of the center in Gostynin was emphasized by, inter alia, Ombudsman. It was the extreme overpopulation that caused 30 residents and 17 employees to become infected with the COVID-19 virus in November 2020, and one person died. Earlier, in the second half of June, some of the patients starved to death in the facility.
Dr. Ewa Dawidziuk from the Human Rights Defender’s Office wrote last year that “the possibilities of this and so absolutely overcrowded center are running out.” “Most of the patients live in eight-person rooms with bunk beds. There are no such conditions in any other treatment facility in the country” – she emphasized.
The authorities of the center in Gostynin ensure that the facility in Czersk will be constructed in such a way as to exclude the possibility of any contact of patients with the environment – including even eye contact. The complex is to be fenced and secured with a spiral barbed wire, as well as equipped with a system of over 100 industrial cameras, monitoring people staying there 24 hours a day. The windows of the building will be secured with bars, nets and special blinds so that patients cannot see what is happening outside. They will also be protected with a special foil that will prevent them from breaking.
Main photo source: TVN24