The Dutch Way of Running Prisons Helps to Close Them Down
Date:  11-15-2016

Treating the cause of what brought an individual to prison and devising individual treatment plans slashes the Netherlands" recidivism rate
From BBC News Magazine:

While the UK and much of the world struggles with overcrowded prisons, the Netherlands has the opposite problem. It is actually short of people to lock up. In the past few years 19 prisons have closed down and more are slated for closure next year. How has this happened - and why do some people think it's a problem?

The smell of fried onions wafts up the metal staircase, past the cell doors and along the wing. Down in the kitchen inmates are preparing their evening meal. One man, gripping a long serrated blade, is expertly chopping vegetables. "I've had six years to practice so I am getting better!" he says. It is noisy work because the knife is on a long steel chain attached to the worktop.

"They can't take that knife with them," says J n Roelof van der Spoel, deputy governor of Norgerhaven, a high-security prison in the north-east of the Netherlands. "But they can borrow small kitchen knives if they hand in their passes so we know exactly who has what."

Some of these men are inside for violent offences and the thought of them walking around with knives might seem alarming. But learning to cook is just one of the ways the prison helps offenders to get back on track after their release.

"In the Dutch service we look at the individual," says Van der Spoel.

"If somebody has a drug problem we treat their addiction, if they are aggressive we provide anger management, if they have got money problems we give them debt counselling. So we try to remove whatever it was that caused the crime. The inmate himself or herself must be willing to change but our method has been very effective. Over the last 10 years, our work has improved more and more." Read more >>