Two-person cells win Senate approval
7 July 2004 , AMSTERDAM − Despite concerns over an evaluation of a trial involving two-person jail cells, the Dutch Senate gave definite approval on Tuesday night to legislation aimed at reducing capacity problems in the nation's prisons.
7 July 2004
AMSTERDAM − Despite concerns over an evaluation of a trial involving two-person jail cells, the Dutch Senate gave definite approval on Tuesday night to legislation aimed at reducing capacity problems in the nation's prisons.
Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner hopes all Dutch jails will have prison wings equipped to handle two-person cells starting from 1 September, news agency ANP reported. The minister is not opposed to three or more prisoners being confined to one cell.
Detainees can now be forced to share a cell with another inmate, unless they are diagnosed with psychiatric disorders. This is in contrast to the trial conducted in seven prisons in which prisoners volunteered to share a cell with a fellow detainee.
Opposition parties Labour PvdA, green-left GroenLinks and the Socialist Party (SP) voted against the legislation in the Senate, primarily due to the manner in which two-person cells are being implemented.
The three parties are seriously concerned by problems outlined in a report evaluating the experimental phase. They are concerned that problems will intensify when the voluntary nature of the two-person cells is scrapped.
Both the safety of prisoners and guards will be placed at threat, they said. Concerns over humane conditions were also raised.
The Lower House of Parliament, Tweede Kamer, backed the legislation in December 2003 before the evaluation report had been completed.
In total, seven jails have been involved since Autumn 2003 in the trial, but it has previously been revealed that HIV-infected prisoners, drug addicts and detainees with psychiatric problems have been detained in a two-person cell.
PvdA Senator Tan demanded on Tuesday that Donner delay the permanent introduction of two-person cells, but the Christian Democrat CDA minister refused. Donner wants to tackle the prison capacity problems as quickly as possible.
For the time being, the two-person cells will be created in existing facilities. Minister Donner is not opposed to larger cells housing three of four detainees, but that is not possible in present jails.
Government parties CDA and Liberal VVD and the populist LPF of the deceased Pim Fortuyn have also indicated in the Lower House that they are not opposed to the construction of jails with cells for more than two inmates.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch new