Who pays for the prisoners' meals

The risk that ex-prisoners will end up in prison again later is great. 60 to 70 percent will commit offenses again.

Many prisoners leave the prison gates deeply in debt. During detention, alimony payments accumulate, court and lawyer fees are charged, and sometimes perpetrator-victim compensation has to be paid. Inmates who are fairly rewarded while in custody experience the work and the associated earnings as something positive and do not have to worry about their livelihood after imprisonment, says Matzke.

But the justice ministries of the federal states reject calls for higher wages; Just like education, implementation is a matter of the state. Prisoners are not employees, says a spokeswoman for the Bavarian Ministry of Justice. The minimum wage is about people being able to pay for a living with the money they earn. Work in the penal system, on the other hand, would primarily aim at rehabilitation.

It's about appreciation and a certain amount of financial independence

But the low wages contradict the efforts to reintegrate people into society and the labor market after their imprisonment, as the criminologist Bernd Maelicke sees it. Appreciation, a certain financial independence and social relationships are decisive factors in rehabilitation, he says. It is an important step for prisoners to be able to gradually pay off debts and to be able to pay maintenance themselves. This would give the prisoners the feeling that they could steer their lives back on track with their own efforts and earnings.

Justice ministries, on the other hand, oppose a wage increase. And that for almost 50 years. That is how old the demand for fair payment of prisoners and pension payments is already. The judicial authorities of the federal states argue, among other things, with the costs that a prisoner causes per day. In Bavaria it is 113.43 euros, in Berlin 150.48 euros. The Bavarian Ministry of Justice points out in writing that last year the prisoners received 39.9 million euros in labor income compared to total expenses for the penal system of 436.4 million euros, including the construction and maintenance of the institutions.

The majority of the population is in favor of more hardship against criminals

Bernd Maelicke is convinced that a lot of money could be saved if more prisoners were selected for open execution and more sentences were suspended; and at the same time the relapse rate could even be reduced.

But although the crime rate continues to decline every year, a majority of the population is in favor of more harshness against criminals.