Dutch prisons to close; not enough inmates

prison cell doorThe recession’s hurting all sorts of industries, it appears – the Dutch Justice Ministry has announced its intentions to close some prisons and slash 1,200 jobs, because there just aren’t enough criminals top fill the cells.

During the 1990s the Netherlands faced a shortage of prison cells, but a decline in crime has since led to overcapacity in the prison system. The country now has capacity for 14,000 prisoners but only 12,000 detainees.

Deputy justice minister Nebahat Albayrak announced on Tuesday that eight prisons will be closed, resulting in the loss of 1,200 jobs. Natural redundancy and other measures should prevent any forced lay-offs, the minister said.

The overcapacity is a result of the declining crime rate, which the ministry’s research department expects to continue for some time.

Apparently they’re considering importing detainees from Belgium in order to keep the jobs open… perhaps we’ll see more outsourcing of prison services in the years to come? Steal a car, see the world…

What differences in prisoner conditions might exist between countries with more incarceration than they can handle and those with space to spare? What underlying attitudes or legal frameworks are contributing to that lowering crime rate, and how might they manifest in the prison industry, if at all? [image by abardwell]

It’s also interesting to note that I’m currently sat in a country whose prison system is full to bursting and whose crime rate is allegedly spiralling, but the Netherlands is the country with the relaxed attitude to soft drugs like cannabis – isn’t that exactly the opposite of the way the legislators tell us these things should work?

4 thoughts on “Dutch prisons to close; not enough inmates”

  1. How funny…I live in a country too where they’re kicking violent prisoners out because there’s no room. Time for a little expedition to the Netherlands for CA, USA prisoners!

  2. And would you believe that most people in Holland *feel* less safe? I strongly suspect this is because of the media coverage: bad and horrible news is overempasised while good news is underreported, ‘because it doesn’t sell’.

    Also, I think our relaxed attitude to soft drugs — indeed reviled in some countries, but adapted by others like Switzerland and some nothern Germany counties, to good results — is not going far enough: I’m in favour of completely decriminalising *all* drugs.

    Make *all* drugs available, provided for at cost by the state: this will greatly reduce the costs caused by the drug mafia. Hell: make it available for free to addicts, on the condition that they register and get rolled into a rehabilitation programme. Everybody wins.

    Here I am, throwing up another ‘crazy story idea’ for the Shine anthology, without even thinking hard. Where are yours, dear Futurismic readers?

  3. Hmmmm interesting

    Netherlands; about 12.000 prisoners (less than 1000:1
    The USA: about 3 million prisoners (about 100:1)

    I live in the Netherlands. Fascinating.

  4. I live in Rotterdam and I must say that I do feel safe. The fact that we don’t criminalise drug users makes a huge difference. Correct me if I’m wrong, if the USA could focus more on the drug traffickers and less on the users than that would mean a lot of prison closures. Taking drugs isn’t a big deal over here, so nobody cares (no streetcred) and consequently the number of users is also low. Oh, the irony.

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