Four more prisons are planning to be closed in the Netherlands due to the decline in prison numbers. The prisons are located in Noord-Holland, Zoetermeer, Almere and Zeist.
The news is just in that the cabinet is considering shutting a further 4 prisons. This isn’t the first time and most certainly won’t be the last. In recent years, prison numbers have been falling, causing the prisons to close. This has never been taken lightly, as people lose their jobs and for this reason, the government is going to avoid closing down any prisons in rural areas. In the past, due to the uproar, the government was actually taking in prisoners from abroad in order to keep the prisons open and ensure that they still had their jobs! Asylum seekers were also housed in old prisons, for a safe space to stay. This won’t be happening this time, it seems.
The Dutch crime rate is falling
According to AD, between 2012 – 2016, the overall number of prisoners was down by 24%. This meant that the total workforce dropped from 14,430 – 10,902. This is still currently decreasing. This crime decrease is not just a Netherlands thing though, as crime, in general, is falling in most countries – they say this all the time in the UK, yet the prison population in ridiculously overpopulated. So why is it affecting prisons so much in the Netherlands?
Why are Dutch prisons closing?
News such as this is always met with concern from the public. Is the crime rate actually falling or has reporting crime just gone down (there has been a concern about reporting numbers falling)? Are the Dutch ‘too soft’ and as a result, there are a large proportion of short sentences? Is the Netherlands using dealing with criminals more effectively? Is the Netherlands becoming a safer country? Only time will tell if these questions are right or wrong.
What we can say is that ‘soft’ drug offences are a massive part of the Dutch having a smaller prison population. If you compare a country where cannabis is criminalised vs not, then you will see a mounting difference in the prison population. Users can be arrested, dealers will definitely be arrested (and there are a lot more of those when you can’t have it), so it’s bound to make a difference. This doesn’t totally explain the rate of prisons closing, however. And this only goes for cannabis, not what’s happening with hard drugs. So until the full 2018 crime stats are out, we will know for sure what’s happening with crime in the Netherlands.
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