Do the Dutch Have a Solution to UK Prison Reform?

Dutch prison system news, reoffending rates Holland, UK prison system news, UK prison system crisis, suicides in UK jails, The Netherlands news, Holland social programs news, Europe news, Europe prisons news, rehabilitation of prisoners news, human rights of prisoners

© mik38

March 21, 2017 17:00 EDT

To some, the lives of inmates in the Netherlands may not look like punishment, but the Dutch say it works.

The Netherlands used to have one of the highest imprisonment rates in Western Europe, but jail was expensive and ineffective in preventing reoffending. So the authorities looked for alternative punishments. In Dordrecht jail prisoners can walk freely through regulated areas, and every inmate is given a key to his individual cell. Inmates are provided wardrobes with clothes, a television and their own personal bathroom. Everything is geared toward preparing them for life outside of the prison.

John, who has been in prison for two years, says that more freedom means more responsibility.

The governor of Dordrecht, Karin Winkelman, says prisoner numbers have plunged. Current occupancy at Dordrecht is 336 out of the 472 available spaces— an indication that the focus on rehabilitation, which prevents prisoners from coming back, is paying off. Low incarceration ratesare also due in part to minor offenses being punished with fines and community service.

Having doubled imprisonment numbers from 1993 to 2016, England and Wales were recorded as having the highest numbers of prisoners serving life in the EU. Overcrowding, drug abuse and inmate suicides are high. The UK government has promised over a £1 billion of improvements, but some politicians are looking to the Dutch model as inspiration.

According to the chair of the Justice Committee, Bob Neill, MP, “Reoffending costs about £18.5 billion pounds to our economy, so adopting a model along the lines of the Dutch, perhaps, is actually going to save money.”

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

Photo Credit: mik38

Support Fair Observer

We rely on your support for our independence, diversity and quality.

For more than 10 years, Fair Observer has been free, fair and independent. No billionaire owns us, no advertisers control us. We are a reader-supported nonprofit. Unlike many other publications, we keep our content free for readers regardless of where they live or whether they can afford to pay. We have no paywalls and no ads.

In the post-truth era of fake news, echo chambers and filter bubbles, we publish a plurality of perspectives from around the world. Anyone can publish with us, but everyone goes through a rigorous editorial process. So, you get fact-checked, well-reasoned content instead of noise.

We publish 2,500+ voices from 90+ countries. We also conduct education and training programs on subjects ranging from digital media and journalism to writing and critical thinking. This doesn’t come cheap. Servers, editors, trainers and web developers cost money.
Please consider supporting us on a regular basis as a recurring donor or a sustaining member.

Will you support FO’s journalism?

We rely on your support for our independence, diversity and quality.

Donation Cycle

Donation Amount

The IRS recognizes Fair Observer as a section 501(c)(3) registered public charity (EIN: 46-4070943), enabling you to claim a tax deduction.

Make Sense of the World

Unique Insights from 2,500+ Contributors in 90+ Countries

Support Fair Observer

Support Fair Observer by becoming a sustaining member

Become a Member