'No Dutch felons wrongly institutionalised'

22nd December 2011, Comments 0 comments

It is impossible that anyone in the Netherlands has been wrongly institutionalised by the courts.

In none of the current cases did judges make mistakes in either imposing or extending a court order to have a convict committed to a facility for the criminally insane.

This is the conclusion of a commission of experts who investigated 2,491 cases in which convicted criminals were institutionalised by a judge.

The investigation was prompted by two cases which came to light this summer. In the first case a man had wrongly been held in a closed facility for six years. The second case involved a man who had spent 18 years in a mental institution while this was not allowed.

The commission of experts discovered no miscarriages of justice; in each of the cases at least one crime was committed which justified the sentence imposed.

However, the commission did recommend the courts carefully evaluate 30 cases in which convicts were institutionalised or had their sentences extended based on then prevailing jurisprudence, which has since changed.

Lawyers specialised in cases involving the criminally insane say they are seriously concerned about the current system and say specialised judges and public prosecutors should be appointed.

In the Netherlands, convicted felons can only be institutionalised when the crime they committed carries a minimum sentence of four years in jail. After these four years, the court order can only be extended when the original sentence was imposed as the result of a violent crime.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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