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Festive opening of Viru Prison

Minister of Justice Rein Lang, Minister of Internal Affairs Jüri Pihl and the chair of the Executive Board of State’s Real Estate Company (Riigi Kinnisvara AS) Jaak Saarniit festively opened the Viru Prison in Jõhvi on July 29, 2008. The Minister of Justice Rein Lang admitted that Viru Prison is exactly what a prison has to be and wished strength to all the employees of Viru Prison. “Because the employees of the prison have done a successful job when the detainees will never return to the place again,” Lang claimed.

Viru Prison combines both a prison and a police house of detention. All in all there are 1000 places in up to 2-bed cells for the prisoners in the new prison; in addition there is a 75-place open prison and a 150-place police house of detention. There are 747 convicted offenders and 211 people held in custody in Viru Prison at the moment. The prison complex also holds education facilities, a sports hall, social workers’ rooms, a chapel and workshops in addition to the detention cells and accommodation area for the detainees. In his speech the Minister of Internal Affairs Jüri Pihl expressed gratitude to the Ministry of Justice and the State’s Real Estate Company, who could build up a contemporary prison complex in only one and a half years. According to Pihl the new house of detention belonging to the prison alleviates constantly building-up queues for the house of detention as well as the working conditions of the police officers. “It is important that the officials fighting crime on spot would retain high morals as well as the will to work. In the newly-opened prison all the prerequisites for that are created,” Pihl said.

The construction works of Viru Prison started under the direction of the State’s Real Estate Company in Jõhvi in year 2005. The corner stone of the new prison was laid on September 16, 2006 and on June 6, 2007 a rafter party for the prison was celebrated which marked the reaching of the maximum height of the prison complex. The prison was completely ready in March 2008. The first detainees were brought to Viru Prison to serve their custodial sentence on April 1 this year. According to the chair of the Executive Board of State’s Real Estate Company Jaak Saarniit the organization of the establishment of Viru Prison was the greatest and most complicated development project in the history of the company the realization of which was not an easy task to complete.

“The timely completion of a building as complex and of such a specific nature was possible despite the complicated construction conditions thanks to the excellent cooperation between our partners: first and foremost the cooperation between the ministries of Justice and Internal Affairs, the management of the prison, the owner supervision, the architect, the builder and other participants,” Saarniit said. “Now we have to make sure that the prison complex would be in top-order for the next thirty years,” he added.

There is a special unit in Viru Prison, created for juvenile offenders and those hold in custody, where approximately 160 14-21-year-olds serve their sentence as of now. In order to better direct young offenders to the everyday life, there are officials working in the department who are especially specialized in youth work. The location of juvenile detainees into one prison creates better opportunities for the officials to specialize and makes it possible to use better spatial conditions to carry out educational work as well as social programs.

The prison contains fourteen buildings and with the surrounding territory covers 16 hectares of land, the area occupied by the buildings is ca 19,000 square meters. The prison complex was designed by Sweco Projekt AS, architectural design was made by AS Arhitektuuribüroo Kalle Rõõmus and the construction of the complex was completed by AS Merko Ehitus. The owner supervision was carried out by AS Tallinna Linnaehitus and the TSM Projektijuhtimise OÜ acted as the engineer. The second chamber-type prison in Estonia brought 350 job posts to Ida-Viru County and cost 1.2 billion EEK. Viru Prison is located in Jõhvi, in the area between Ülesõidu street, Tallinn-Narva railway, Kose roundabout and the southern border of Jõhvi town.