The Dutch prison system is facing a crisis: not enough prisoners. Across the Netherlands, prisons are closing down and prison staff are being made redundant. While other countries struggle with overcrowding, the Dutch are re-purposing their empty prisons as trendy boutique hotels.

Should more countries follow the Netherlands’ approach? The Dutch criminal justice system focuses on rehabilitative and therapeutic policies, aimed at driving down the reoffending rate and integrating prisoners back into society. Prisoners receive help with specific issues they are struggling with, from drug addiction, to debt counselling, to anger management. Thanks to this, the Netherlands now has one of the lowest incarceration rates in Europe.

Critics, however, argue that this approach is far too soft. If criminals serve their sentences in (relative) comfort, then does that mean their victims have been denied justice? Could it encourage people to break the law, because they do not fear incarceration?

Should we stop sending so many people to prison? Would a focus on reform and non-custodial sentences be a better way to reduce reoffending rates and prevent prison overcrowding? Or would it signal a “soft on crime” approach? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

Image Credits: (c) BigStock – mickeym


28 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Paul Sullivan

    It is the tabloid arguement in Britain. Better to treat prisoners badly and have them screwed up and reoffend than address their problems and then have them lead a law abiding life. Justice doesn’t mean trying to exact revenge. Justice can also mean that no one else is hurt. The tabloid press in Britain has, for too long, screwed up our system.

  2. avatar
    Catalin

    Justice =/= Revenge

    – Criminals should serve their sentences.
    – While serving their sentences, criminals should work to earn money for food, as opposed to getting money and food from the state, they work like in real life except they work in prison.
    – The state should help prisoners receive help with specific issues they are struggling with, from drug addiction, to debt counselling, to anger management.

    The purpose of prison should be both rehabilitation and punishment. You get locked up and still have to work to earn your money like in outside life, but at the same time you will be helped with specific issues you are struggling with in order to drive down the reoffending rate and integrate prisoners back into society.

  3. avatar
    Любомир

    The place of convicted criminals is in prison and that’s that.

    • avatar
      Betti

      What if they’re convicted by a corrupt judge? Or by a corrupt president? What if the evidence was falsified by a corrupt government? What if it was your mother and she’s innocent?

    • avatar
      Любомир

      There are numerous ways to prove that in court. You are not the first person in history to ask these questions and think about such cases, you know…

  4. avatar
    Николай

    No! Let murderers and rapist free! And imprison all weed users!

  5. avatar
    Helena

    Sending someone to prison is neither doing justice nor rehabilitating criminals. Sending someone to a life in prison does not bring the homicide victim back to life on earth. Justice should be thought before there is a motif to crime. Better society starts with knowledge. Human freedom walks alongside with respect and is always confined to the condition of being human.

  6. avatar
    Е. М.

    Yes … labour camps are much better options. :D

    • avatar
      Liz

      😁😂😂so, we are already in prison, we work sometimes 12 hours! I didn’t realize that. What I’ve done wrong?!?😭😭😭

    • avatar
      Е. М.

      We are just PRIVILIGED labour prisoners, but yet prisoners

  7. avatar
    Gloria

    Yes, we’ll have to stop sending people to prison – they are full to bursting.

  8. avatar
    Anna

    No…if someone deserves to be in prison they must be in prison that is the lesson that has to be learned also on some cases we have to bring the death penalty back sorry

  9. avatar
    Jeroen

    And then what, execute them? This sounds like a stupid question to be honest…

  10. avatar
    Radu

    Yes. Decriminalize all drug related activities. Let’s treat all drugs like we treat alcohol today. Spend money on counseling people not to use them. We’lI end up having far fewer drug related deaths too.

  11. avatar
    Chris

    Maybe stop arresting people for protesting against corrupt leaders like on France and UK

    • avatar
      Rumy

      yea and keep attesting people on Twitter for mean twits

  12. avatar
    Svetoslav

    We should send them to St. Peter instead. Just kidding.
    Now seriously: the number of people sent to prison should be dependent on the severity and the number of crimes they committed, and not on some governmental target for reducing prison population statistics.

  13. avatar
    Chris

    Prison time does not make you a better person. This is proven. Murderers, rapists, drug dealers, pimps, speculators, traitors etc should receive death penalty.

  14. avatar
    Rumy

    Yea… Just let them roam the streets and commit more crimes…Brilliant idea.

  15. avatar
    David

    Depending on the severity of the crime send them to the electric chair.

  16. avatar
    Bódis

    I would send violent criminals to a gulag.

  17. avatar
    Enric

    Yes, specially the inmigrants…they should be send to prisons in their own country.

  18. avatar
    Olivier

    Of course not EU should finance prison building program because more migrants is more crimes

  19. avatar
    Chris

    Should we start building a better society towards fewer prisons?

  20. avatar
    Ingrida

    Send them to Siberia – it makes sense more than feeding them with rubbish food 🙂 I doubt jail is punishment as, according to drunk statistics, 99% died from breathing Polonium during the first years while jailed. Diagnose of death – “cancer” or “poor eating habits” 🙂

  21. avatar
    Isabelle

    Of course, yes ! I would love so much that my neighbour is a man who knows so well how to rapt, to kill and to cut in little pieces a woman like me…… I already lived near criminals. NEVER AGAIN !

  22. avatar
    Julia

    Community service should be a preferred consequence. Physical abuse, sexual abuse, violence, threat of violence, murder and theft should still go to prison though.

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