After three years in Drenthe, the last remaining Norwegian inmates being held in the Norgerhaven prison in Veenhuizen will be returned to Norway.
Translation by Traci White
Dagblad van het Noorden reports that Norway was renting out 242 cells in the Drenthe town of Veenhuizen for the past three years. Norway sent some of its inmates to the Netherlands because of the lack of available cells within its own borders.
Around 20 percent of the inmates at Norgerhaven were from Norway, and now that the country has built new prison facilities, the Norwegian inmates are being brought home. The arrival of the Norwegian prisoners meant more jobs in the region: 239 full time employees were hired to work in Veenhuizen.
As DutchNews.nl reported at the time, Norway paid the Netherlands 25 million euros to lease the Drenthe prison for three years. Back in April, prison employees expressed concerns about keeping their jobs once the Norwegian prisoners leave, but as of September, the newly available cells will be occupied by Dutch inmates. The Drenthe prison also houses 72 caregivers and inmates who require special care.
The Drenthe town of Veenhuizen has been a penal colony for since the 19th century and currently has two other prisons. The Netherlands has had a shortage of inmates for years: The New York Times reports that around 33 percent of Dutch prison cells are unoccupied, and some former prisons have been converted into office space and asylum seekers centres.
Dutch criminologists say that this relatively unique situation is due to the Dutch criminal justice system’s emphasis on rehabilitation rather than punishment or incarceration, as well as far more lenient drug possession and use laws.