The Netherlands is putting Asylum Seekers in Prisons, and they’re proud of it?

Dutch Problem Solving At Its Finest

Now before this misleading line of deviously worded click bait dribble starts to stir the loins of all you Geert Wilders supporters, it’s important to note that the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers in charge of the initiative are placing refugees in prisons with the best of intentions.

This isn’t Australia for crying out loud, where we use policy like a rolled up newspaper to swat asylum seekers on the nose. This is progressive Dutch pragmatism that’s being put into play for the betterment of refugees and their families. So here’s the low down.


Falling Crime Rates And What To Do With The Empty Prisons

As a direct result of the Dutch governments forward thinking approach to what actually constitutes an offense punishable by incarceration, crime rates are falling. If you’re like me and have had the displeasure of losing your favourite bike at the hands of a bolt cutter-wielding bandit you may disagree, but I speaketh the truth.

The Netherlands is becoming a safer place every day and prisons all over the country are closing down then being repurposed to cater for the inflow of refugees seeking a new place to call home.

Between roughly 50,000 to 60,000 migrants entered the Netherlands in 2015, which is a staggering amount of people to process and integrate into society whilst still making sure that everyone is comfortable and adequately provided for.

Protesting refugees
Refugees protesting in the streets

This is a practical step, albeit really a band-aid for the true issue at hand. But when you think about it, a modest yet sheltered prison cell is much safer than the alternative, which is on the street with nothing to eat. At least here the migrants are given the opportunity to learn about Dutch culture and of course, study the language.


A Step In The Right Direction

This program is a temporary fix for a much larger problem. I won’t go into said problem due to the fact that my upper middle class white boy brain cannot even begin to fathom the many underlying social, political, religious and moral difficulties faced by asylum seekers in the current global landscape. But in short, their life is no barbeque in Vondelpark, although the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers is doing their best to change that.

The Dutch are setting a great example for other countries on how to responsibly integrate asylum seekers into society
The Dutch are setting a great example for other countries on how to responsibly integrate asylum seekers into society

There are currently 12 penitentiaries housing asylum seekers located all over the Netherlands from Haarlem to Arnhem and beyond. Most have been renovated beyond recognition and bare no resemblance to their former selves, nevertheless a select few with their domed roofs and unique circular layout are considered national monuments and are exempt from refurbishment.

Migrants are also allowed to request new accommodation based on the grounds that they believe they would not feel comfortable in their new quarters. This is ideal for that that may have been wrongfully locked up back in their country of origin.

A panopticon style prison
A panopticon style prison similar to the one in Haarlem

Making The Best of a Terrible Situation

It seems that the Dutch are doing what the Dutch do best, and amidst all the negative press that’s pervading the European media at the moment it’s good to hear that there’s still people looking to make the best of an unfortunate situation.

Trust the good people of the Netherlands to set such a fantastic example for other countries when it comes to the responsible and humane handling of asylum seekers.


  1. […] So you might think: “Arrest these criminal migrants in the Netherlands and deport them the day after. Problem solved!” But it doesn’t work like that in a constitutional state. Cases need to be made up, a trial has to be completed, a sentence has to be handed out, etc. – this all takes time and we really appreciate it all because not having fair trials and such sucks. However, you can feel the frustration with a cop in Drenthe when he catches a gang of Algerian asylum seekers red handed when thieving in the local grocery store. So in order not to hinder expelling them a lot of times, charges against these criminals aren’t even filed. You can imagine the frustration of the victims. (Interestingly, we’re already putting refugees in jail) […]


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