Prisoners in the Netherlands may soon have to pay for their cell accommodation, if a bill becomes law.
Deputy justice minister Fred Teeven “believes that a convicted prisoner serving jail time will have to pay partly for their incarceration”, said ministry spokesman Wiebe Alkema.
“The minister think it’s only fair that not all the costs should be shouldered by the state and society when you lock somebody up.”
Prison time costs the Dutch government about €250 per day per prisoner, Alkema said.
If passed by the two houses of parliament, convicted prisoners will pay a suggested flat rate of €16 per day for a maximum of two years.
The ruling coalition of prime minister Mark Rutte’s liberal People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and its left-leaning Labour Party (PvdA) partner agreed the bill after winning a 2012 election.
If approved, it will become law on Jan 1, 2015.
A separate bill that would require prisoners to contribute to the costs of the investigation that led to their conviction is also under consideration.
The two bills would generate €65m a year for the Netherlands’ cash-strapped prison system which holds some 12,100 inmates.
The Offenders’ Association (BWO), a Dutch prisoners’ rights group, said the plan was against European human rights rules which say that the state must pay for prisoners’ detention.
“The deputy minister wants prisoners to pay for two years, that makes a tidy sum of almost €12,000,” said BOW head Pieter Vleeming.
“Now you want to send a prisoner who has no money, who has lost everything while in jail, with (this) debt into the outside world?”
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