‘We are fully booked’: Over 800 Zurich residents volunteer to try out new jail

A new prison in the west of Zurich has been inundated with responses from people wanting to stay the night.

Bunk beds are seen in a prison cell. Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels
Bunk beds are seen in a prison cell. Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

As we wrote recently, the new Zurich West prison has put out a call for local volunteers to spend several nights in the 241-place jail to test it out before it accepts actual prisoners.

So far, 832 people who presumably have nothing more pressing to do have volunteered to be imprisoned for several days without access to the internet or phones. Because, why not?

The registration closed on Sunday, February 13th. 

READ MORE: New Zurich jail calls for volunteers to serve time

“You could say we are fully booked” a spokesperson for the prison told Swiss media

The dress rehearsal, as it were, will take place between March 24th and 27th in conditions that will be as close as possible to reality. 

This means participants must hand in their mobile phones and other devices at the entrance.

Different dietary requirements can be catered to, although only vegetarian, Halal and non-vegetarian options are on offer. No last meals will be served. 

On the other hand, the body search will be carried out only on those who consent.

In addition, a keyword will be agreed upon, with which the fake convicts will be able to signal that they have had enough of isolation.

The selection process of candidates is about to begin, though given that four times as many people have applied as there are open spots “there probably won’t be room for everyone,” in the new prison, said a spokesperson the Department of Execution of Sentences and Reinstatement.

Cost of living in Switzerland: How to save money if you live in Zurich

‘There are only winners in this situation’

Prison officials have extolled the virtues of the program, saying people can get a real idea of how it feels to be in prison – without having to commit a crime. 

“There are only winners in this test operation. As a participant, you can experience in a safe environment how it might feel for a real arrested person to suddenly be locked up.” 

“Make your own comparison between fiction from various series and reality in Switzerland.”


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REVEALED: What are Zurich’s most popular baby names?

Zurich’s most popular baby names from 2021 have been revealed. A strong trend towards short names has emerged - and there’s barely an Urs or Ursula in sight.

REVEALED: What are Zurich’s most popular baby names?

On Thursday, Zurich council published its list of most popular baby names in 2021. 

During 2021, 5,251 babies were born across the canton, which is Switzerland’s most populous. 

On top of the list for boys was Noah, with 27 of the boys born last year receiving the biblical name. 

The leader for the girls was a little more controversial, with two different names laying claim to the crown. 

While 28 of the girls born in Zurich last year were called Olivia, there were 44 girls born in total with a variation of Sophia/Sofia. 

REVEALED: The most popular baby name in each Swiss canton

Short names dominated both lists, with Emma, Anna, Ella and Mia ranking high for girls, alongside Leo, Louis and Theo for boys. 

Another trend is that diversity is on the slide in Zurich, with fewer names given than in previous years. 

Swiss tabloid Blick reports that while 15 years ago there were 62 different names for every 100 people, there were less than 50 (48 for girls and 47 for boys) in 2021. 

Middle names are also on the rise in Switzerland, with 57 percent having one in 2021 compared to 48 percent in the 1990s. 

How does this compare to Switzerland? 

Although the 2021 figures haven’t been released for Switzerland, those from 2020 showed Noah was popular across the country as the favourite boys name. 

Olivia however was not even in the top five for girls names in Switzerland, where Mia, Emma and Mila were the most popular. 

Much like pretty much everything in Switzerland, there are significant differences between linguistic regions. 

In total, there were 461 Mias born in Switzerland last year, followed by 407 Emmas and 350 Milas.

Switzerland saw 507 Noahs born last year, followed by 372 Liams and 359 Matteos.

Mia and Noah are the most popular names in German-speaking Switzerland as well as in the country as a whole, which is of course helped by the fact that around 60 percent of Switzerland speaks German.

French-speaking Switzerland, also known as Romandie, saw Gabriel and Emma top the charts in 2020.

Sofia claimed top prize in the Italian-speaking part of the country, while Leonardo was far and away the biggest winner among the boys.

The situation is slightly different among Switzerland’s foreigners, with many opting to stick with names popular in their home countries, rather than those in Switzerland. 

READ MORE: What are the most popular baby names among foreigners in Switzerland?