Crime rates in the Netherlands have been declining in the past few years. In addition to creating a safer society, this has benefited the country in an unexpected way. With prison space to spare, the Netherlands is renting it out!
It has agreed to admit 500 Belgian inmates into its prison in the southern Dutch city of Tilburg. Belgium will pay the Dutch 30 million euros $41.14 million (26.37 million pounds) a year for the favour under a three-year deal.
The prison will be staffed by employees of both countries, while the Director will be Belgian.
Belgian prisons are a couple of centuries old as well as overcrowded, so those Belgian prisoners selected to be shifted to the Dutch prison at Tilburg are quite happy.
The Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, addressing the conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices, in August last year, said
“ A matter of concern, indeed worry, is the large number of undertrials in our jails. Many such undertrials have been in jail for periods longer than they would have served had they been sentenced. This is indeed very disturbing.”
A few days ago, Law and Justice Minister M. Veerappa Moily, said that the government planned to expedite the cases of undertrials who are not involved in heinous crimes.
He further stated that the government planned to dispose of two-thirds of the under trial cases by the end of July this year.
He said there were in excess of 300,000 undertrials in India, which amounts to 70 percent of the total numbers in jails in the country.
“Only 30 percent (of the total prisoners) are people actually convicted and imprisoned,” he said, adding that about 200,000 of the undertrials have been in jail for several years “essentially because of delays in the justice delivery system”.
A large number of undertrials, who will not be convicted and sentenced in the end, are being forced to spend years in Indian jails. It is to be hoped that the government is sincere in its intention to reduce the social injustice caused by this, by eliminating delays in the trial process.
Perhaps the prospect of earning a large sum by renting out our prisons to other countries would be an incentive to speedily release those undertrial detainees who are innocent. A portion of any monetary gain would probably find its way into bureaucratic pockets. This would ensure that the pending cases are quickly disposed of!