Expatica news

Belgian child sex offenders walk free

9 November 2004

BRUSSELS – Five percent of 658 prisoners who had conditional early releases from Belgian jails last year were child sex offenders.

Thirty five of those who walked free had committed crimes against minors, it was reported in La Derniere Heure on Tuesday.

Of the 658, 98 percent were men, mainly within the 25 to 35 age group.

Last year, 2,734 detainees from Belgium’s 32 prisons introduced a request to be let out of jail early.

Of this number, only 1,138 made it before the six committees that can give a yes or no verdict on conditional early release.

A total of 59 percent were approved, while 480, or 41 percent, were rejected.

The largest majority, or 35 percent, of these releases concerned criminals who were serving time for crimes against other people.

A further 34 percent were released who had committed crimes against property.

This was followed by 19 percent of those who had carried out crimes relating to drugs.

Crimes of a sexual nature represent seven percent of all cases, with five percent of this figure concerning children.

The paper reports that this figure has remained constant over the course of a number of years.

In general prisoners must have served one third of their sentence, or ten years if they have been condemned to life, before they can be considered for early release.

They must also show a readiness to readapt into society and are assessed on their personality, behaviour in prison and likelihood to re-offend.

The newspaper asserts, however, that the current overcrowding in Belgian jails may be playing a role in the high early release rate.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news