The ministry of the Interior announced plans to modernise Almeria’s prison system just as the crisis began.
With spending cuts and less cash to spare, the €10 million project has halted and the El Puche and four new modules at the El Acebuche jail are built but unused.
Budget limitations mean that more staff cannot be taken on so the cells, workshops, offices, libraries, laundries and stores are serving no practical purpose.
The El Puche open prison (CIS) for prisoners nearing the end of their sentences was intended to provide training to help their reinsertion into society while relieving pressure on the overcrowded El Acebuche centre.
The CIS was announced in 2008 but building did not begin until 2011 and although finished in 2013, it is empty. It is likely to remain so because the central government did not include an allocation to staff it in the 2016 Budget.
Speaking in the national parliament at the end of August, Andreu Bassas, president of the publicly-owned SIEP (State Prison Infrastructure and Equipment), announced that €1.1 million would be distributed amongst CIS centres in Almeria, Valencia, Las Palmas and Ceuta. Almeria’s share will go towards equipment but will not stretch to staff, Bassas said.
El Acebuche’s four new modules are in much the same position. The ultra-modern three-storey building combines more space with increased security but although finished a year ago, it is not yet authorised for occupation.