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Why Netherlands' Prisons Are Closing

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The reason the Netherlands Is closing its prisons is staggering, especially for the American reader: there are not enough offenders because of the country’s progressive philosophy and best practices it is using. 


The Criminal Justice Alliance (CJA), representing over 60 organisations, called for the government to urgently limit “unnecessary use of prison, ensuring it is reserved for serious, persistent and violent offenders for whom no alternative sanction is appropriate”.


In 2009, the Dutch justice ministry announced a plan to close eight prisons in the Netherlands. Why? A declining crime rate that is expected to continue. In 2013, a staggering 19 prisons were scheduled to close. Officials have announced they are in the process of cutting 3,500 jobs.


How did they do it?


Primary reasons for fewer offenders and prisoners in the Netherlands include a continued general decline in crime rates, a focus on rehabilitation of offenders, progressive drug laws, and also, those convicted are choosing electronic tagging instead of incarceration.


The tagging allows people to go back to work and continue as productive members of society. Not only that, it saves approximately $50,000 per year per person (about $50 million saved annually for every 1000 people).


A prison overcrowding report last year in the Nehterlands noted that surging prison populations undermined rehabilitation of prisoners and risked increasing reoffending in the future.


Declining crime rates in the Netherlands mean that, although the country has the capacity for 14,000 prisoners, there are only 12,000 detainees, reported the


The decrease is expected to continue, the ministry said, with Deputy justice minister Nebahat Albayrak saying that natural redundancy and other measures should counter any forced lay-offs.


Johnson County and the Netherlands have something in common. The average incarceration rate in the Netherlands is about 163 people per 100,000. In Johnson County, the rate of incarceration is the about the same – slightly lower. (Source: 2012 Annual Sheriff’s Report – PDF)


Counties and countries with low incarceration rates typically take a different approach to criminal justice and investing in social services. 


In comparison, the United States “tough on crime” focused justice and prison systems are failing miserably. Overall, the incarceration rate is 10 times higher in the U.S. than it is in the Netherlands.


Read: Are You OK Putting Americans In Black Holes For Decades?, Dupré, May 9, 2014)


The Dutch largely kept the Napoleonic Code after their independence, but made it significantly more rehabilitative. The Dutch incarceration philosophy stresses the need to minimize hardships on the prisoner and emphasizes maximizing prisoner contacts with family and the preservation of community ties. (Downes, David. (2007) Visions of Penal Control in the Netherlands, p. 117. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007. ISBN 0-226-80664-5)


Crime rates have fallen slightly in recent years in the Netherlands but are not notably lower there than in neighboring countries,


Prisoners are able to enjoy many of the benefits of life on the outside. For example, inmates can receive visitors once a week, talk on the phone, and participate in sports.

Sources: True Activist, News 13 (Amsterdam) Wikipedia, We Are Change Netherlands,, Eric Barlow

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    Total 22 comments

      a society with common sense, brains and no lobby to grease the judges to fill up the jails.

    • zyklonb

      Yes but prisons are big business in the us. As is the justice system. Get someone in the system and squeeze them and their family until all the money is gone. That is unless you are connected with the establishment and rich….or a banker!

      • Neanderthal

        Actually the judge is a banker. That is why the black robe and also he banks for the state. the Guuuvernmente.

      • Deborah Dupre

        “surging prison populations undermined rehabilitation of prisoners and risked increasing reoffending in the future” so – lower the prison population, lower future crimes.

        • Black Humor

          It is a cycle of social marginalization. Most countrys whom look alternatives to highly ineffective ”war on drugs”(drugs are more plentiful and cheaper than ever) have also received lesser ”conventional” crime rates. When you exclude part of the population from general society and tell them they are criminals regardless of their behavior, you get really nice and compassionate people. Just waite and see the flashback in Philippines… Why should one not burn a city block where ”that snitch lives” – those taxpayers had it coming anyway. :evil:

    • Alan

      UK carries on the way it does, because they know its hard to get off this fkin island.

    • MSG Chicken

      They are at 80% capacity rate is NOT DECLINING. Who comes out with this logic? That’s right liberals don’t have logic.

      And the Dutch don’t have to deal with violent Mexicans that they just leave to cross over the border. HECK, they encourage it! They also do not have to deal with low IQ Negroes.

      STAY away from the Netherlands if they do this. They are unleashing criminals on you!

      • Deborah Dupre

        MSG – Glad to know YOUR true color and approximate IQ, as you’ve revealed in your comment.

        You win this week’s Super Racist Award.

        The Dutch prison population would be even lower, but they indeed do have to manage immigrants fleeing there to escape US imperialist invasion and occupation in their own countries.

        As far as the accuracy of this report, it’s based on government docs and Amsterdam news reports.

        • MSG Chicken

          I report facts and I am a racist? I see. Remember what I said about liberals having no logic?

          Negroes are known to have the lowest IQ of human species.
          They do not invent nor build anything of note.
          They live off of whites.
          They do not farm, only subsistence farming.

          Where is there great cities?
          Where are their seaports?
          For such a large indigenous population they had none!

          FACT: They have never been known to prosper an area when given he chance.

          Granted all races have this to a degree but none so ubiquitous and saturated as the negro man.

          All people call me racist for stating logic and facts yet in the hundreds of comments I never said to HATE the negro like you racist goad yourselves into.

        • Physhstx


          “Negroes are known to have the lowest IQ of human species.”

          Reference please.

      • ToBeOrNotToBe

        Negroes are known to have the lowest IQ of human species.

        How much IQ does it take to steal someone else land, enslave them, murder them, rape their women, and declare yourself superior?

        “They live off of whites” What did they live off of before whites came along?

        • MSG Chicken

          That is exactly why the negro killed each other. LOW IQ.

          They also starved to death and we always had to feed them.

    • af18200xr

      “Due to declining crime rates’ is a lie. The reason why they can close dutch prisons is that they now put mutliple persons in one cell, following the USA prison model. Until very recently it used to be just one prisoner in one cell. They changed this only to save money so that the country could adhere to the european union’s rule that it’s deficit must not exceed 3% of GDP.

      Don’t forget the dutch now have 19 empty prisons that could serve well as the dutch equivalent of FEMA camps… an added bonus I am sure (And is maybe the real reason why they all of a sudden vacate 19 prisons)

    • Hawbs

      i’ve been there on vacation. lovely place, kind people, i believe all drugs were legal. they sold pot in bars. they were laid back and very clean people. sometimes it’s good to see how other people around the world are, how rich or poor their country is. england still had the milkman. another nice country. makes you wonder about american attitude. i do notice a huge difference in rural compared to city folk in america. it all gives us something to ponder, huh?

    • earlcity

      Hellow, howdie there.
      I am a native born with native born parents and native born grandparents, dutch national.
      Have been delivered to this country at Soesterberg, NATO Air Force Base during the Cold War.
      My father was a intelligence royal dutch air force servicemen.
      Thanks for all the positive signals about our country, but you have only seen the touristic
      part of the country.
      For example, hard drugs are not allowed to trade or sell in this country..
      Crime is plentyfull in this country, but because we have a very soft law system, you can better
      be a good criminal in this country then a having a job, our criminal syndicates are happy here.
      And no, we do not have Mexicans, no we have :Maroccans, Turks, Somalian, Serbs (etc)and Roe
      menian and Bulgarian criminal coming here recently..
      And our own establishment is as corrupt as every other country, otherwise Pim Fortuyn would
      not have been murdered.
      You know how it is possible we close down our prisons( otherwise because of cutting costs messures, not declining crime): simple, when for eample the (supposed) murderer of Pim
      Fortuyn, Mr. van der G., has been released from prison after only 12 years imprisonment…!!
      Lots of common thieves, mostly not tthe Dutch, are but sons of immigrants (for real) are bejing
      set free a short time after the crimes they commited, and are treated well with taks money..
      To Anonymous: we are living here in a imprisonment environment, through the citizenship
      numbers we all have, and a lot of surveillance equipment..
      The government here has become a soft version of Big Brother, and you haveto be very very
      careful at what you say, like in the states and the UK..
      The Dutch themselves are nice people, but thats not the entire population anymore..

      • Deborah Dupre

        Thank you for the inside information. Much appreciated. The big difference between there and the US seems to be the Dutch policy of not incarcerating low-level drug users and humane prison treatment focused on rehabilitation – learning new acceptable and self-sustaining behaviors. If the US did that, its prison population would fall dramatically and there would be less violence.

      • Pateriot

        You paint a VERY different picture of the Netherlands than the article does!! Thanks for setting the record straight!

    • Anonymous

      The reported crime rates may have reduced here but the real criminals carry police badges and shoot innocent children. They are also into politics. Same as everywhere else.

    • Jimstonefreelance

      This is actually a good report. The dutch prison rates are by no means low, even at 10x less than America’s.

      America is a freakish prison state unprecedented in world history. And it is not just the Mexicans, the prisons are NOT full from them, it is the fact that America jails people for long periods of time for non criminal offenses. And I am not just talking drugs, I am talking many many other things that have nothing to do with crime, and everything to do with “statute”.

    • Jacko

      This was news in 2013 LOL

    • Lucifer Morningstar

      Hide yo kids, hide yo waifu, and hide yo husbando. Because scared straight is coming for you! :evil:

    • Karaokephile

      “United States “tough on crime” focused justice and prison systems are failing miserably”
      I have to take issue with this. Like other assertions that “the system is broken”, the assumption is that the system in question is working for the people. Get that idea completely out of your head; because it’s not. The political system in the US is working for a relative hand-full of oligarchs. The actual government is a proxy for groups of wealthy elite who pull the strings from behind the proverbial curtain.

      For example, the US military, which is tanking our economy, makes a few very rich men even richer. These sociopathic plutocrats willingly send tens of thousands of American soldiers to their deaths, along with innumerable foreign soldiers, so they can make more money. They dump millions into lobbying, campaign contributions, backroom deals, and outright bribes in order to keep the wars going, the military bloated, and the money pouring in. This system is working perfectly; it’s just not working for you.

      The same is true for the legal system in the US. The “war on drugs”, the illegal “immigration” checkpoints even on roads that don’t cross the border, sobriety checkpoints, mandatory minimums, gutting the funding for care of the mentally ill, overpopulated prisons where violent repeat offenders are mixed with non-violent, and so on… These are all in place to create class of people who can be politicized and put in the spotlight to garner votes. These are the “faces” of crime and they’re everywhere! It’s a scare tactic, to increase the size of the nanny state. The US government is creating a class of people who are labeled as “criminals” for life, thus destroying their prospects of a normal life and career. Non-violent offenders of immoral, victimless (i.e. drug) crimes are beaten and raped in prison; come out bitter and disenfranchised, then hamstrung by a “convicted felon” albatross hung around their necks for life.

      Every time there is a discussion about reducing the size of the prison population or eliminating repugnant laws that should not exist in a so-called “free” society, there is always the argument presented of how many “jobs” will be lost. Are you KIDDING ME?! So, government employees who are doing egregious, immoral, and outright evil “jobs” are a legitimate argument to kidnap people and hold them for decades, to be raped, tortured, murdered, and deprived of huge chunks of their life; just so some idiot who isn’t qualified to be a Wal-Mart greeter can have “a job”? The same can be said of anything, in that case… Gulags, slave drivers and traders, torture chambers, foot binders, concentration camps; Hey, these are all legitimate careers, as long as there’s a paycheck involved – victims be damned. Human suffering doesn’t matter and people are all chattel; a means to an end. It’s the real-life version of The Matrix, only people – instead of being batteries – are income.

      The system isn’t broken; it’s working exactly as it was designed to. It’s just isn’t intended to work for you.

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