Criminal law council slams ‘irresponsible’ plans for more sober jails

The cabinet’s plan to make the Dutch prison regime ‘more sober’ is far-reaching, irresponsible and breaks local and international laws, according to the criminal law and youth protection council.

Junior justice minister Fred Teeven plans to allow prisoners to ‘earn’ privileges, which he hopes will encourage good behaviour. But, according to the council, ‘a normal person will not be able to meet the demands and will spend most of their prison career in the more sober environment’.

According to Nos television, in Teeven’s plans, all prisoners will start in the sober regime, and unless they work, will spend 20 hours a day in their cells. After six weeks of good behaviour, they can take part in activities and follow courses.


These will include work-related activities or passing a driving licence theory test, as well as taking courses to deal with aggression or addiction. They will also need to earn privileges to try and find a house or a job when preparing to leave prison.

The council told Nos many prisoners with short sentences will not be able to take part in the ‘plus programme’. Addicts will also fail to get the help they need and the 15% to 25% of prisoners with learning difficulties will not be able to meet the new demands on them either.

Furthermore, the plans conflict with Dutch and international laws, the council says. Teeven has not yet responded to the criticism.

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