Prison leave no longer up to judges (update)

Responsibility to decide if people in prison can be given compassionate leave is to be transfered to prison governors, justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin said on Wednesday evening.

The minister was responding to MPs questions about the escape of human trafficker Saban Baran, who was given a week’s leave to bond with his new baby despite being a known flight risk.
The minister said he was preparing new legislation to tighten up the rules on prison leave. The governor of the prison where Baran was serving a 7.5 year sentence was opposed to the leave, which was agreed to by judges.
Hirsch Ballin said he was not insulting the judicial system by removing some powers from judges. ‘I want to remove the double layer which will give us a tighter and better framework for this sort of ruling,’ he said.
But, according to Trouw, the legal profession is furious with Hirsch Ballin. ‘This is something which absolutely should be left up to judges,’said Reinier van Zutphen, chairman of the judges’ association NVvR.
The NVvR also advices the minister on new legislation. ‘We will look at this very criticially,’ Van Zutphen told the paper.
Prison governors and lawyers are also opposed, the paper says.
‘A prison governor is a civil servant who has to watch his back,’ said one public prosecution department official. ‘A judge is independent and should be afraid of no-one.’
The NRC reports on Thursday that the head of the court at the centre of the row over Baran’s release has admitted it was a mistake. What has happened since Baran was given leave is a ‘nightmare’ and ‘terrible for his victims’, judge Dick van Dijk told the paper.
Van Dijk said the court often allowed convicted prisoners to take home leave, which ‘nearly always’ proceeded without problems.

Thank you for donating to

We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.

Make a donation