Dutch Justice Minister Ard van der Steur said on Monday that the government plans on closing five more prisons over the next few years to cut down on spending on empty prison cells. This is a direct result of a notable decline in the country’s crime rate, reports International Business Times.
The decision reflects on the declining crime rate across the Netherlands, where eight prisons were shut down last year. It is unclear which of the country’s prisons are being considered for elimination. The shutting down of the prisons would result in the termination of 1,900 employees, while 700 other workers would be transferred, according to De Telegraaf newspaper, as reported by IB Times.
Van der Steur explained in the parliament that hundreds of prison cells remain unused sometimes because the judges impose shorter sentences on the convicts and serious crimes are becoming less frequent, reported New Europe.
In recent years, in an effort not to fire prison officials due to the ongoing prison reforms, the Netherlands leased prison cells to house inmates from Norway, with a group of 242 prisoners being transferred to Dutch jails in 2015. Inmates from Belgium also have been sent to Netherlands prisons to serve their sentences, The Guardian had reported.
The Dutch government said it is not considering any more closures than the 19 aforementioned prisons, reported Australia Network News.
Nine Kooiman, a Socialist Party MP, was reported saying that the speculations that the government is going back on its earlier promise were nothing more than a “scandal.”
“If this cabinet was really working to catch crooks, we wouldn’t have this problem of empty cells,” the Dutch News quoted her as saying.