THE Balearics will be one of the first regions in Spain to have a prison adapted specifically to the needs of mothers with young children under the age of three, “to guarantee living conditions more suited to the age of the children,” according to Mercedes Gallizo, the director general of prisons. Gallizo and Mayor of Palma Catalina Cirer yesterday signed the papers under which the city council will cede two plots of land in the Levante industrial estate to the ministry of the interior. The prison for women and children, with room for up to 15 mothers, and another centre for prisoners on minor charges who are nearing the end of their sentence and are allowed out during the day to work, will be built on these sites. Gallizo said that details of the agreement would be ironed out “in record time” so that construction could start over the next few months.
The jail for mothers would guarantee better conditions for the children. It will not be a “traditional centre” but will be designed and organised so that a child can live there “without suffering”, although it will have “security, vigilance and control measures,” Gallizo said. At present, nine women in Palma jail are accompanied by their children, in a wing “which is not very recommendable” for minors to spend the first years of their infancy, she added. “Although the area is quite adequate, it is still a prison, and the trauma arises when they have to return to the cell to sleep,” she said. In exchange for the two plots of land, the Palma city council will receive the 13'000 square metres on which the old jail stands, in Calle Capitan Salom, on the city outskirts. The council will build more than 100 subsidised flats plus a green zone.
The old jail was closed in 1999, when the modern new prison was built, and it is being used as a Social Insertion Centre for the 86 prisoners who are allowed out of jail on leave, but have to return to sleep in the prison every night. These prisoners will be rehoused in the new facility which will have 100 double rooms and better living conditions.
The other regions which will have special prisons for mothers with children will be the Canaries, Valencia, Madrid and Andalucia.

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