The Netherlands has a problem with prisons and prisoners, just like any other country. But while the rest of the world is struggling with overcrowding, the Netherlands is struggling to fill its prisons. Indeed, the country is actually running out of people to lock up, such that the government has been forced to close prisons throughout the country because they have been sitting empty.
Crime rates in the Netherlands are falling spectacularly for the past two decades, thanks to the country’s wholesome approach to law enforcement that prefers rehabilitation to incarceration.
“The Dutch have a deeply ingrained pragmatism when it comes to regulating law and order,” René van Swaaningen, a professor of criminology at Erasmus School of Law in Rotterdam told The New York Times. “Prisons are very expensive. Unlike the United States, where people tend to focus on the moral arguments for imprisonment, the Netherlands is more focused on what works and what is effective.”
The front façade of Het Arresthuis jail, which now houses a hotel.