More prisons can be closed as empty cells increase

Amsterdams 'Bijlmer Bajes' prison is being turned into accommodation for refugees. Photo: Herman Engbers/HH
Amsterdams ‘Bijlmer Bajes’ prison is being turned into accommodation for refugees. Photo: Herman Engbers/HH

Eight more prisons can be shut down over the next five years because of the surplus of cells, according to a report for the justice ministry by senior prison staff.

However, the report’s recommendations will not be implemented because of the government’s decision not to close more prisons during its lifetime, junior justice minister Klaas Dijkhoff said in a briefing to MPs.

The officials say that over 2,500 cells can be cut from the total prison provision by 2021 as prisoner numbers continue to decline. The closure would be coupled with the loss of 2,600 jobs, the officials say.

Prisons in Rotterdam, Zeist, Heerhugowaard and Veenhuizen are on the potential closure list. Veenhuizen is currently home to several hundred Norwegian prisoners.

Fewer prisoners

Figures published by the justice ministry earlier this month show the number of people in prison in the Netherlands fell by 27% between 2011 and 2015 to just over 11,000.

The decline is due to both the falling crime rate and a switch towards community service sentences, officials said.

Nineteen prisons were shut in 2013, and one such defunct institution – Het Arresthuis – is now a hotel.

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