Life prisoner goes to court in campaign for early release

A prison corridor

A man who is serving a life-long prison sentence in a Dutch jail is going to court on Wednesday in an effort to begin to prepare to return to society.

Edwin Stanley Senff has been in jail for 23 years. He was sentenced to life in prison for a string of violence crimes, including the murder of a man whose house he had broken into.

Justice minister Klaas Dijkhoff is planning to offer people with a life sentence a reintegration programme after 25 years. Once the programme has been completed, officials will decide if the prisoner can be released or not.

The move follows criticism from the European Court of Human Rights, which says that life with no prospect of release is an inhumane punishment.

Senff’s lawyer José Lindhout told broadcaster NOS: ‘We do not think Dijkhoff is meeting the court’s ruling. The court said life prisoners should have their cases reviewed after 25 years, once they have completed the programme. So it should start earlier.’

Some 30 people are currently serving life sentences in Dutch jails.

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