The King has the authority to remit, reduce or modify a sentence handed down by the court: this is called a pardon. In addition, persons who have been sentenced to determinate terms of imprisonment of one year or more may be eligible for release on parole, subject to certain conditions.
A pardon may be granted only if there are ‘changed circumstances’, for instance if the offender’s health is failing. The Judicial Information Service reviews all pardon applications. An application may be submitted by the prisoner, their lawyer, their probation officer or a family member.
Release on parole
Offenders serving a custodial sentence of at least one year may be eligible for release on parole, subject to certain conditions. Those conditions include not committing another offence during their parole. If they fail to meet the conditions, they may be returned to prison.
The operational period begins on the day the offender is released and lasts until the end of the original sentence, subject to a minimum of one year. In exceptional cases, the length of the operational period is determined by the Public Prosecution Service (OM).
The probation service monitors whether offenders adhere to the conditions of their release and provides guidance. Municipalities are notified when a prisoner is about to be released or has been granted leave, using the prisoner information management system (Bestuurlijke Informatievoorziening Justitiabele, BIJ).
In future prisoners may be eligible for electronic detention under the Custodial Institutions Master Plan, which has been approved by the cabinet. Electronic detention involves fitting offenders with a wrist or ankle bracelet that allows them to be monitored at home. Prisoners will only be eligible for electronic detention in the year prior to their release.
During electronic detention, prisoners are required to look for a job or a study programme. If they cannot find anything, they may do community work, for instance carrying out maintenance on government buildings and monuments. The use of alcohol or drugs is prohibited during electronic detention.
If something goes wrong or the offender does not abide by the rules, they will be sent back to prison.
Longer supervision after serious offences
Offenders who have committed serious sexual or violent offences and are released on parole are to be placed under intensive supervision for a longer period to prevent them from reoffending, under a new Bill approved by the cabinet. For instance, the court may impose an alcohol ban on an offender for a longer period, or ban a sex offender from doing certain types of volunteer work. The Bill has not yet been approved by Parliament.