The Netherlands Faces an ‘Unfamiliar’ Tragedy: Too Few Prisoners

“Declining crime rates in the Netherlands mean that although the country has the capacity for 14,000 prisoners, there are only 12,000 detainees, reported the nrc.nl.

Furthermore….

A report last year on prison overcrowding said that surging populations undermined the rehabilitation of prisoners and risked increasing reoffending in the future.”

The Huffinton Post UK Reports:

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Netherlands Close Eight Prisons Due To Lack Of Criminals

Huffington Post UK  |  Posted: 26/06/2013 17:44 BST  |  Updated: 16/09/2013 01:42 BST

As prison populations surge in the UK, with overcrowded cells and repeat offenders, the opposite is happening in the Netherlands.

The country is actually to close eight prisons because of a lack of criminals, the Dutch justice ministry has announced.

Declining crime rates in the Netherlands mean that although the country has the capacity for 14,000 prisoners, there are only 12,000 detainees, reported the nrc.nl.

The decrease is expected to continue, the ministry said, with Deputy justice minister Nebahat Albayrak saying that natural redundancy and other measures should counter any forced lay-offs.

A report last year on prison overcrowding said that surging populations undermined the rehabilitation of prisoners and risked increasing reoffending in the future.

The Criminal Justice Alliance (CJA), which represents more than 60 organisations, called for the government to urgently limit “the unnecessary use of prison, ensuring it is reserved for serious, persistent and violent offenders for whom no alternative sanction is appropriate”.

It came after Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick said the rising pressure on prisons from budget cuts and increasing numbers cannot go on indefinitely.

See the article here.

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edible MANHATTAN: Growing New Lives – Rikers Island

THE IDEA FACTORY:
Growing New Lives

First published in the July-August 2013 edition of Edible Manhattan

| July 4, 2013 | By  | Photographs by Lindsay Morris

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A gardening program on the largest penal colony in the world.

On an island in the East River not far from LaGuardia, down a dirt trail leading to a shed, past a table strewn with plant cuttings, a doorway opens out onto a glass greenhouse. In the gentle humidity of teeming plant life, long tables are topped with tray after black-plastic tray of thriving seedlings—tomatoes, peppers, cauliflower, string beans, thyme, basil, rosemary—and their self-declared caregiver, Wayne.

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Tackling Torture in Nigeria

I am glad to share a recent blog post on the work of Godwin Ugbor, Assistant Program Officer at PRAWA Enugu, featured on the blog World Without Torture….

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Tackling torture in Nigeria
10/01/2013

Although a global problem, torture takes shape in different ways in different contexts. Tackling it is also a local challenge, with human rights defenders asking, how does torture happen here?

Godwin

Godwin Ugbor is an assistant programme officer and a trained psychologist at PRAWA, a Nigerian torture rehabilitation centre.

Godwin Ugbor is an assistant programme officer and a trained psychologist at PRAWA, a Nigerian torture rehabilitation centre.

PRAWA, or Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action, is a Nigerian rehabilitation and advocacy organisation and member of the IRCT. They have developed a methodology and series of programmes to prevent torture from happening in the first place, one that is nearly so obvious and simple.

Read the rest of this article here.

Check out more from this featured blog at World Without Torture.
And from PRAWA: Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action, particularly on their upcoming training:

Regional Training Workshop on Prison Health
Date: 7th & 8th April, 2013.
Venue: African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Banjul, Gambia

Fresh from Texas: a revelation that counseling is key

“They’re not bad children,” said Bobby Jacobs, a gray-haired, retired public school principal who is one of about two dozen staff members handpicked to work in the program. “They just made bad choices.”

THE TEXAS TRIBUNE

Giving Juveniles Intensive Counseling

By BRANDI GRISSOM
Published: September 1, 2012

MART — The green-black lines of prison life are scrawled on 16-year-old Luis’s face: a cross on his left cheek, three dots arranged in a triangle under his left eye and “cholo” written vertically on his right cheek.

It is a stark institution that holds more than 300 juveniles. There are no trees. Metal buildings are surrounded by concertina wire curling high above the perimeter. A single basketball hoop in the corner of the grounds is fenced off for recreation, a faded basketball lodged in the razor wire overhead.

Structure and personal attention are the priorities. Nearly every moment of the day is filled with counseling, school time, meals or recreation. The staff-youth ratio is small, one to four, compared with a ratio of one to 12 in the other juvenile facilities.A diagram of the “anger control cycle” reminds them to sense physical signs of escalation and control their behavior.

To Mr. Carter [dorm supervisor], the success of the Phoenix Program is its simplicity: giving youths the attention and structure they need to focus on making a future for themselves.

Now [Luis] recognizes the physical cues that mean his anger is escalating.

Herein, lies the power for change:

  • small staff-to-student ratio
  • structured positive, exploratory, activities
  • behavioral management through self awareness and group dialogue
  • goal setting, and ‘goal meeting,’ through support and positively high expectations

“It’s really the system’s failures that are creating these horrible environments,” Mr. Magnuson said, “and unfortunately it’s these kids’ lives at stake, their futures.”

Read full article here

What can be learned from the ‘new’ Texas example?