Prison bosses have been blasted for giving hardened criminals and terrorists “paint by numbers” colouring books and toy Lego bricks paid for with taxpayers’ money to try and keep them calm.
Titled the “activity box”, the package also includes a ship modelling kit, a 300-piece puzzle and a Sudoku book.
The special packages to inmates were handed out to prisoners in the Austrian state of Styria by the country’s Directorate General for the Prison Service and Preventive Detention.
The colouring set in the box is titled “painting by numbers” in which the inmates have to colour in blank drawings by matching the numbers on the image with the colours.
If the jailbirds need some help using their colouring pencils, they can read the book “creative colouring” which was also added to the box.
Prison guards were flabbergasted by the free handouts to prisoners.
One guard at Jakomini Prison, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “After singing bowl therapies there is now as well tinkering for terrorists, how is it possible?”
The colouring boxes for prisoners also got their share of criticism from politicians.
State MP Stefan Hermann of the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) said: “This action of the Ministry of Justice cannot be surpassed in its absurdity and ridiculousness.
“To placate hardened criminals with ‘painting by numbers’ is plain nonsense.”
Hermann said the box should be sent “unopened back to Vienna” as prisoners need “a consistent penal system and no childish entertainment games”.
It is not the first bizarre idea launched in Austrian prisons which has come under fierce criticism in recent months.
Last year, calls were made by politicians to axe a sex-for-good-behaviour scheme which allows inmates to travel to the romantic Weinviertel region, where a special “cuddle cell” has been arranged for sexual encounters with loved ones in the picture-postcard town of Korneuburg.
The special bus transport to the ‘cuddle cell’ has been dubbed the “sex line”.
Politicians and prison guards were outraged when it was revealed that a 40-year-old rapist was given Viagra by prison doctors at the Krems-Stein jail to treat erectile dysfunction ahead of a romantic rendezvous with a lover in the cuddle cell.