'Justice houses' demand reinforcement
They are demanding more means and personnel to carry out their job.
2 December 2008
The personnel of the 'justice houses' held a protest action on Monday. They are demanding more means and personnel to fulfil their tasks. On Friday the will put their demands to Justice Minister Jo Vandeurzen (Flemish Christian Democrat).
Justice houses are responsible for answering legal queries, offering aid to victims and supervising offenders who are eligible for conditional release from prison.
The trade unions complain that the execution of their work suffers due to a shortage of personnel and means. The waiting list for electronic surveillance for prisoners who are eligible, for example, is very long.
"These people come to us in a prison with questions about an electronic ankle band. But because we do not have assistants any more, they are sent back. Sometimes they have to wait up to a year," says Veerle Putzeys of the Christian trade union ACV.
In some cases it leads to people being in prison for longer than they need to be (draining the prison resources) and in other cases it leads to some people getting off without control. "In some places the waiting list is up to two years. Someone out of prison on trial probation is barely supervised," adds Putzeys.
According to the daily Het Nieuwsblad some 1500 convicted criminals are on the waiting list for an electronic ankle band.
Justice Minister Jo Vandeurzen is aware of the waiting lists for electronic surveillance. He is working on a plan and is asking the trade unions and their members to be patient. He expects the first results around March.