Prison spending cut plan will hit public safety, say legal experts

The government’s plans to slash spending on the prison system will hit public safety, the influential council for criminal law and youth protection (RSJ) said on Tuesday.

Junior justice minister Fred Teeven plans to cut €340m from the prison budget. The plans include the closure of a number of the country’s 29 prisons, increasing the number of prisoners who share cells and boosting the use of electronic tagging.

The RSJ says Teeven’s plans miss vision and will hamper efforts to settle convicted criminals successfully back into society. This is likely to increase the reoffending rate, the RSJ said.

Critics

Unions, the council for the judiciary and the Dutch bar association have already slammed the plans, saying they restrict the freedom of judges to decide who should be sent to prison.

The RSJ says people not considered suitable for release using electronic tagging will live under a more restrictive prison regime and will not be properly prepared for their return to the outside world.

Chairman Leo de Wit told the NRC Teeven must reconsider his plans. ‘The key values of our prison system must remain intact,’ he said.

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