Dutch jail popular with Norwegian prisoners: less work, more phone time

Photo: China Crisis wikimedia commons
Photo: China Crisis Wikimedia Commons

The Dutch jail rented by the Norwegian prison authorities is so popular there is a waiting list for a place, its director Karl Hillesland has told broadcaster RTV Drenthe.

The Norgerhaven jail in the prison village of Veenhuizen has been rented by the Norwegians since September last year and all 241 places are now occupied. Prisoners have to consent to being sent to the Netherlands to serve their sentences and a special promotional film has been used to tempt them, RTV Drenthe said.

Among the differences with the Norwegian regime: the prisoners get more time outside and work less. They also get more telephone time with their families and can keep contact via Skype.

Around 20% of the prisoners are Norwegian and the rest mainly from eastern Europe and northern Africa.

Prison personnel, who are Dutch, are also happy with the behaviour of their charges and describe the Norwegians as being better mannered than their Dutch counterparts.


The controversial three-year deal with Norway was signed by former junior justice minister Fred Teeven last year. Norway has a shortage of prison cells and the Netherlands a surplus.

The deal also guaranteed 239 full-time jobs in Veenhuizen, which has two other prisons and a secure hostel for young refugees.

Norgerhaven is not the first Dutch jail to be used by foreign prisoners. The Willem II prison in Tilburg is currently housing several hundred Belgians. According to the Dagblad van het Noorden, Norway is paying the Netherlands €25.5m a year to rent the prison.

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