A blot on the reputation of the Finnish penal system – the more than 200 cells in Finnish prisons that do not have a functioning toilet – will be eliminated by 2017 at the latest, says Minister of Justice Chief of Staff Tiina Astola.
Inmates housed in toiletless cells use buckets instead, or they can ask a guard to let them use a toilet elsewhere.
The Ministry of Finance cut nearly EUR 600,000 from proposed spending by the Ministry of Justice. The money would have been used to install toilets in the remaining cells that lack them.
Tiina Astola says that the Ministry of Justice itself withdrew the request, because of a delay in planned refurbishment of prisons. The first of the refurbished cells will be ready in 2014 and not 2013 as originally planned.
The first place where the bucket cells will be eliminated will be in Mikkeli, where there are 26 of them.
Helsinki has 73 such cells, but they are not currently in use.
The refurbishment work in Mikkeli and at the Sörnäinen prison in Helsinki is expected to be completed in 2014. In Hämeenlinna some of the refurbished cells will be ready in 2016.
"The rest will certainly be put in shape in 2017 at the latest", Astola says.
The Hämeenlinna prison has the greatest number of cells without toilets – 123.
The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture has criticised Finland for the toiletless cells, which it finds degrading.
The committee says that inmates need to be able to go to a toilet regardless of the time of day. Astola points out that prisoners in a toiletless cell do not need to use the buckets – they can simply ask a guard to let them use a toilet outside the cell.