Prison crisis, Dutch style: too few prisoners

AP News
Posted: Apr 11, 2014 6:18 AM

AMSTERDAM (AP) — The Dutch government is facing an unusual crisis: Prison undercrowding.

There are now more guards and other prison staff than prisoners in the Netherlands for the first time, according to data released by the Justice Ministry on Friday.

Crime rates have fallen slightly in recent years but aren't notably lower in the Netherlands than in neighboring countries, and many Dutch people think sentences for violent offenders are too light.

In 2008, there were more than 15,000 inmates. As of March of this year, there were just 9,710 remaining, compared with 9,914 guards.

In the U.S., that figure is more like one staff member per five prisoners.

Justice Ministry spokesman Jochgem van Opstal says "we're studying what the reason for the decline is." The ministry is already carrying out prison closures.