Maximum duration of conditional release of detainees reduced to two years as from today

Today sees the entry into force of the Sanctions and Protection Act. As a result, perpetrators of serious crimes will no longer be conditionally released after having served two-thirds of their sentence. In addition, the maximum duration of a conditional release will be reduced to two years. Previously, this period could last for up to 10 years. Furthermore, the conditional release will no longer take effect by operation of law, but the Public Prosecution Service will take an individual decision for each detainee as to whether he or she qualifies for conditional release, taking into consideration factors such as the detainee’s behaviour, the interests of victims and the danger to society.

Minister Dekker:

‘Releasing a perpetrator long before the end of his prison sentence feels unjust and cannot be explained to the victims. Therefore, this is going to change: as of today, a sentence imposed will be a sentence served. Furthermore, criminals actively have to work on improving their behaviour from day one to prevent them from reoffending – you go to jail, you go to work.’

Behaviour counts

Both the terms of conditional release and the way in which detainees serve their prison sentence are changing. From the moment they arrive in prison, the behaviour of detainees and their efforts to reintegrate in society will play a greater role than is currently the case. Their behaviour will affect the privileges they receive. For example, the fact that visitors had to stay behind plexiglass during the coronavirus period has been shown to affect the import of contraband. Detainees found to be in possession of contraband may be ordered to receive visitors behind glass only.

In addition, the behaviour of detainees affects the course of their detention. Parole will be less self-evident and become subject to conditions. Prisoners who show good behaviour will be entitled to it if it serves a concrete reintegration purpose, such as working towards one or more of the basic requirements for a successful reintegration in society (e.g. debt restructuring and the prospect of a job). When it comes to parole, the behaviour of detainees will also be taken into account.

You go to jail, you go to work

In order to prevent detainees from reoffending, they must actively work on a safe return to society from day one of their prison sentence. In order to achieve this objective, detainees will need to follow a Detention and Reintegration Plan. This will take into account the detainee’s limitations and possibilities and define their personal behaviour and reintegration goals. It will be drawn up and implemented following an early-stage consultation with the Dutch Probation Service and municipalities. The law makes it easier to exchange information. This is how we make the most of the sentence to prevent recidivism and protect society.