Continuation of the Partially Privatised Operation of the Hünfeld Correctional Facility

Justice Minister Eva Kühne-Hörmann: “With the assignment to steep GmbH and the conclusion of a new operating contract, successful cooperation is being continued”.

Wiesbaden / Hünfeld – Today, Hesse’s Minister of Justice Eva Kühne-Hörmann announced the continuation of the partially privatised operation of the Hünfeld correctional facility (JVA). Commenting on the signing of the contract, the Minister of Justice said: “With the award of the contract and the signing of the corresponding contract today, the successful cooperation with steep GmbH will be continued for at least the next six years.”

With the opening of the Hünfeld correctional facility on January 1, 2006, Hesse was the first federal state to transfer non-sovereign operating services within a correctional facility to a private service provider, to the extent of about 40 per cent. “The privatisation of Hünfeld correctional facility is limited to services in the broader sense, without powers of intervention towards prisoners. The latter are reserved for the officials of the Hessian prison system. In contrast, the installation, maintenance and operation of workplaces and workshops, the medical care of prisoners, the kitchen and cleaning operations, the activities of the social services, the educational and psychological services as well as parts of the administrative and auxiliary administrative services have been privatised,” explained the Minister of Justice.

The current operating contract with steep GmbH ends on December 31, 2021. Already in 2015, before exercising the right of option, the Hessian Ministry of Justice commissioned an economic efficiency study of the partially privatised services. A comparison was made between the partially privatised services and a (fictitious) fully state-run operation of the Hünfeld correctional facility. This economic comparison was positive in favour of the partially privatised operation. Against this background, the partially privatised operation of Hünfeld Prison was put out to tender again across Europe in May 2019. Once again, the contract was awarded after the private operator carried out a profitability comparison of the partial operation based on its bid.

“I am pleased that the award of the contract not only means that we can continue a model that generates a cost benefit for the taxpayers of Hesse. With the award of the contract to steep GmbH as a long-standing partner and the establishment of a new contractual relationship, a proven cooperation can be continued. The partially privatised Hünfeld correctional facility is an important component of the Hessian correctional system and thus contributes to the security of the state on a daily basis,” Eva Kühne-Hörmann concluded.


There are 503 prison places available at the Hünfeld correctional institution; as of May 31 2021, it was occupied by 431 prisoners.

Hünfeld Prison is in charge of the execution of custodial sentences on male adults up to 24 months. This excludes offenders with attempted or completed homicide and/or sexual offences.

It is also responsible for first-time offenders with custodial sentences of more than 24 to 60 months in accordance with the decision of the referral commission. Offenders with serious violent, (attempted or completed) homicidal or sexual offences are excluded.

Hünfeld Prison is also responsible for custodial sentences of more than 42 to 60 months in accordance with the decision of the referral commission. Offenders with sexual offences and homicide are excluded.

At the same time, Hünfeld Prison is authorised to impose suspended sentences as well as prison-opening measures for suitable prisoners from Butzbach and Kassel I Prisons.


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