Prison breaks and the Scandinavian solution

Published on 3 August 2009 at 14:32

After two escapes in one month, Belgium’s politicians are wondering how to counter an upsurge in the number of prison breaks. Over the last three years, 80 prisoners have broken out of the country’s prisons. Several escapes have involved helicopters. ForDe Standaard, “escape-proof detention is a technical impossibility, because prisons have to fulfil two objectives — and detaining inmates is only one of these. The second objective is the preparation of prisoners’ re-integration in society, which naturally implies contact with the outside world.” The Flemish daily suggests eight ways to counter the increase in the number of escapes. These include the installation of anti-helicopter nets, the renovation of existing facilities and the provision of more training for prison staff. The newspaper also wants more extensive guidance for prisoners, because “ensuring that prisoners are well prepared for a new life following their release is in the interest of both society and the prisoners themselves.” For Tony Van Pars, a Justice specialist for the Christian Democratic and Flemish (CD&V) party, Belgium would do well to follow the example set by Scandinavian countries: “detainees must receive individual counselling and be offered the option of psychotherapy and training courses. They also need to work and participate in sports, and to be allowed access to entertainment.”

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