The cabinet is considering closing a further four prisons because of falling prisoner numbers, the AD said on Wednesday.
Sources told the paper prisons in Zoetermeer, Zeist, Almere and Zwaag in Noord-Holland are set to be shut down by justice minister Sander Dekker, in the first major cuts since 2013, when 19 jails were earmarked for closure.
The AD says Dekker has chosen to exempt prisons in more rural areas because of the impact on the local jobs market.
The 2013 closures led to a storm of protest from prison workers and the government began ‘importing’ prisoners from Belgium and Norway to fill the gap and keep some prisons open.
The previous government decided not to close more prisons because of the impact on employment rates.
The closures are inevitable because around one third of prison beds are now empty: of the 13,500 beds available in 2017, 8,400 were occupied, the AD said.
National statistics office CBS said earlier this year that the crime rate in the Netherlands is now back to the level in 1980, with 49 crimes reported for every 1,000 members of the population.
The justice ministry has not yet comments on the claims, but Dekker is due to outline his views on the prison service before the summer break, the AD said.