Amsterdam Mayor, Justice Sec. square off on juvenile hall closure
Mayor Eberhard van der Laan is furious about the decision to shut down the Juvenile penitentiary, Amsterbaken in 2016, and has repeatedly urged Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten and his deputy Ssecretary Fred Teeven en MP to reconsider their decision. There are currently 75 juvenile inmates at Amsterbaken, all between the ages of 13 and 23. The Mayor is convinced that the penitentiary for the young inmates is making positive inroads into the rehabilitation of these young people. Mayor van der Laan's main concern is that the psychiatrists who are currently consulting with the inmates will not travel for hours just to consult with one patient. He is afraid that the juveniles will disappear into the masses at prisons in Drenthe and Limburg, without receiving individual counseling. Amsterbaken was rebuilt in 2011 for forty-million euros and expanded with a new wing that was opened by Teeven himself. "The boys in Amsterbaken are punished, imprisoned and removed from their families and environments. It is our responsibility to rehabilitate them and to modify their behaviour. We have to get to know them, and understand them, before we can help them change" says van der Laan. Director of Amsterbaken, Herman Bald still reeling from Wednesday's decision, said, "The ground has disappeared beneath my feet.We are totally taken by surprise."