Amsterdam, February 3: Dutch prisons are emptying fast. The number of prisoners in the Netherlands fell from 20,463 in 2006 to 10,102 in 2016.
This is equal to about 59 prisoners per 100,000 populations, according to data from the World Prison Brief. In comparison, the United States, which has the world’s highest incarceration rate, has 666 prisoners per 100,000 populations, or a total of more than 2.1 million inmates.
The Netherland’s low incarceration rates are largely thanks to relaxed drug laws; a focus on rehabilitation and an electronic ankle monitor system.
These measures have resulted in the closure of multiple prisons across the country in recent years, including Bijlmerbajes in Amsterdam, which was shut down in 2016.
The site is scheduled to be demolished and converted into housing this year, but in the meantime it has been transformed into a creative hub called Lola Lik, which includes space for start-ups, a language school and a coffee shop.
Bijlmerbajes is just one of several prisons to undergo such a transformation. Bijlmerbajes is just one of several prisons to undergo such a transformation.
Alongside this project, the city of Amsterdam and various partners signed an agreement designed to help refugees secure employment opportunities. According to a report featured in Fast Company, this initiative reflects Amsterdam’s policy of actively fostering and encouraging activities aimed at the inclusion of refugees.
In Slovenia, meanwhile, a former Yugoslavian military prison was converted into a youth hostel in 2003, following a campaign by activists between 1993 and 2001 to renovate the space.