Amsterdam prison doors slide shut for last time

Bijlmerbajes prison in Amsterdam (Photo: Janericloebe / Wikimedia Commons)Bijlmerbajes prison in Amsterdam (Photo: Janericloebe / Wikimedia Commons)

The last 75 inmates in the Bijlmerbajes prison in Amsterdam were taken to their new home in Zaandam by bus on Wednesday. The Amsterdam prison is now empty and ready for demolition.

The last inmates in Bijlmerbajes were patient-prisoners with mental illness staying in the Penitentiary Psychiatric Center. Director Danielle Meijer told broadcaster NOS that there were mixed feelings among them about moving. "There are those who find it very nice to leave here and to go to a new environment with more visible gardens, a window that can open. But for others it is difficult to be taken out of their regular environment, it is complicated to move to such a new environment."

It was also hard for employees to say goodbye to the 40 year old prison, including for Meijer herself, whose been director of the prison for 3.5 years. "But there are many who have been working here for much longer, some from the opening already." Meijer said. "For them it is really a sad day. Not every body is moving to Zaandam, there are employees who unfortunately haven't found a new job."

The prison's closing is sad, but logical, the director said. "The buildings are old. It is an inefficient and expensive building that is no longer of our time."

Bijlmerbajes - or Penitentiary Institution Amsterdam Over-Amstel as it is officially called - will eventually be demolished to make room for a residential area. But first it will serve as a temporary asylum center. The buildings will now be renovated to make them fit for the asylum seekers who will be housed there for 18 months from August.


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