Justice ministry plans to cut spending on prisons by €100m will lead to the closure of 11 out of 29 jails, 700 job losses and 800 prisoners being sent home to finish their sentences, according to documents in the hands of television show Nieuwsuur.
The documents show the ministry is considering concentrating the prison population in the central urban belt known as the Randstad, Overijssel and Noord-Brabant provinces. This would be cheaper and more efficient, the documents say.
The number of multi-occupancy cells would also be increased. At the moment, 1,224 prisoners share a cell but that will almost triple.
Bert Koops, chairman of the prison works council, says the plans have created major unease among staff. ‘They are demolishing the prison system,’ he told the Telegraaf.
‘Zeeland and the northern provinces will become a penitentiary no-man’s land, making it harder to prepare people for their return to society.’
Junior justice minister Fred Teeven, who is responsible for prison policy, issued a statement later on Thursday saying no decisions have yet been taken.
Last year, justice ministry figures showed the number of people held in Dutch prisons has been declining steadily and will average 8,875 by 2015.
In 2005, there were an average of 14,108 people in prison but this had fallen to just over 11,000 by 2009.
The reason for the decline in prisoner numbers is a drop in crime and a switch to fines, community service and electronic tagging, the ministry’s research institute said.
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