Netherlands to close prisons for lack of criminals

The Dutch justice ministry has announced it will close eight prisons and cut 1,200 jobs in the prison system. A decline in crime has left many cells empty.

During the 1990s the Netherlands faced a shortage of prison cells, but a decline in crime has since led to overcapacity in the prison system. The country now has capacity for 14,000 prisoners but only 12,000 detainees.

Deputy justice minister Nebahat Albayrak announced on Tuesday that eight prisons will be closed, resulting in the loss of 1,200 jobs. Natural redundancy and other measures should prevent any forced lay-offs, the minister said.

The overcapacity is a result of the declining crime rate, which the ministry’s research department expects to continue for some time.

NRC: Netherlands to close prisons for lack of criminals

(via Cryptogon)


1. If certain politicians and pundits are to believed, The Netherlands has been experiencing a crime epidemic as the result of rampant immigration. Could it be that this was only xenophobic scare mongering?

2. What would happen in the US if prison populations were to decline? Also, since the US has been experiencing overall reductions in crime over time as well, why is our prison population not decreasing? What is the key difference between the US and the the Netherlands in this regard?

Update: I forgot to give link back to Cryptogon early. Many apologies.


  1. The American prison lobby is powerful. Compare teachers and guards in California for example. It’s the same motive for the dysfunction throughout the USA’s system – special groups get wealth by “handling” problems, which incentivizes the creation/perpetuation of problems.

    Like if vaccine makers could make their own plagues for example.

  2. 1. Forgot to credit Cryptogon for the link.

    2. V – I was referring to the fact that marijuana is legal in the Netherlands (and they don’t seem to be obsessed with throwing every single hard drug offender in prison there either).

    But of course you bring up one of the biggest obstacles to ending the drug war: the prison lobby. I’m curious about the role private industry plays in the prison system in the Netherlands and elsewhere.

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