Maximum duration of conditional release reduced to two years
Perpetrators of serious crimes will no longer be released automatically after having served two-thirds of their sentence. In addition, the maximum duration of a conditional release will be reduced to two years. The Public Prosecution Service will decide on a case-by-case basis whether a detainee qualifies for conditional release, taking into consideration factors such as the detainee's behaviour, the interests of victims and the danger to society. These and other proposals are set out in the Sentencing and Protection Bill that Minister Dekker is submitting to the House of Representatives today.
"For society at large, and for victims in particular, it is unacceptable that most perpetrators are released as a matter of course after having served only two-thirds of their sentence. An exacerbating factor is that those who serve the longest sentences are discharged on conditional release for the longest periods of time. This is out of proportion with the severity of the sentence imposed for their crimes", Dekker explains.
The minister proposes to change both the terms of conditional release and the way in which detainees serve their sentence. From the moment they arrive in prison, the behaviour of detainees and their efforts to reintegrate in society will play a greater role than currently is the case. The objective is to reduce the risk of repetition of an offence.
In order to achieve this objective, detainees will need to engage actively with a Detention and Reintegration Plan. This will be drawn up and implemented in consultation with the Probation Service. The plan will take a detainee's weaknesses as well as strengths into consideration. Behavioural change will be stimulated by rewarding effort and punishing negative behaviour while the detainee is in prison. Prison leave will be less self-evident and become subject to conditions. Only detainees who are well-behaved will qualify for prison leave, which must at all times serve a reintegration purpose, such as working towards one or more of the basic requirements for a successful reintegration in society: an ID card, accommodation, work, care and debt restructuring. Research has shown that former detainees who meet these five basic requirements are less likely to become repeat offenders.
Dekker: "It is vital that detainees are in control of their own destiny, both within the prison walls and after their release. It will be up to detainees to seize the opportunities offered to them. If they fail to do that, and continue to pose a risk to society, the Public Prosecution Service will have the power to keep them behind bars. This forms part of the government's efforts to make the Netherlands a safer place."