Drop in crime, shorter sentences lead Dutch to shut 8 prisons, cut 1,900 jobs
The Ministry of Security and Justice plans to close at least eight prisons and three juvenile detention centers in the next six years. Union FNV calls the 1,900 lost jobs accompanying this decision "unacceptable". "Last year State Secretary Fred Teeven that no new closures will follow. Van der Steur is breaking that promise with these announcements", union manager Frans Carbo said to AD. Zoetemeer, Hoogvliet and Zeist are the first prisons to close their doors in 2017, according to the proposal the Custodial Institutions Service gave to the government on Monday. Next year will also see the closure of juvenile institution Rentray in Lelystad. In 2018 the Prison in Heerhugowaard will close, along with youth institutions Veenhuizen and Keeprunt in Cadier and Keer. After that follows Almere in 2019, Almelo in 2020 and Ter Apel in 2021. Half of the prison in Veenhuizen will close in 2021. Alphen aan den Rijn is also mentioned, but with no dates. Prison directors informed their staff about the closure plans on Monday afternoon, according to the newspaper. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Security and Justice stated that these plans are not final. But FNV does not believe it. "I saw the list myself", Carbo said to the newspaper. "Besides, why would you call the staff together if you have nothing concrete to tall. Then you would only cause unrest." The union will meet with prison directors on Thursday. "I am particularly concerned about the impact on the economically weak areas", Carbo said. According to the Ministry of Security and Justice, fewer prison cells will be needed in the coming years due to the falling crime rate and the fact that judges are imposing shorter sentences. About a third of the prison cells in the country are already empty. The Ministry expects that about 3 thousand cells and another 300 spaces in juvenile detention will be empty by 2021. The Netherlands is already renting part of the Norgehaven prison in Veenhuizen to Norway. The first Norwegian prisoners arrived to serve their sentence in the Dutch prison in September last year.