Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Dutch Make Us Look Bad

While it might look like some utopia carved out of a Disney ride, it's actually just The Netherlands.

I came across this story from NRC Netherlands:

The Dutch justice ministry has announced it will close eight prisons and cut 1,200 jobs in the prison system. A decline in crime has left many cells empty.
During the 1990s the Netherlands faced a shortage of prison cells, but a decline in crime has since led to overcapacity in the prison system. The country now has capacity for 14,000 prisoners but only 12,000 detainees.

Deputy justice minister Nebahat Albayrak announced on Tuesday that eight prisons will be closed, resulting in the loss of 1,200 jobs. Natural redundancy and other measures should prevent any forced lay-offs, the minister said.

The overcapacity is a result of the declining crime rate, which the ministry's research department expects to continue for some time.

Now, I'm not really a Europhile. Having been to Europe a few times, I enjoyed myself. And I think there's a few things politically we could learn from them -- like how to better handle our healthcare system and the kind of labor laws we could adapt. But overall I'm an American at heart, and I love our country's take on things.

Yet I have to look at this and just laugh. We have the largest prison population in the world, and we keep building more because it's simply profitable for some people.

Meanwhile, we have relatively peaceful Europe having to shut down prisons because they have made their societies so pleasant to live in that few turn to crime.

It really is remarkable.

I just want to point one more thing out -- as I was browsing the prison story, this popped up. Apparently, there is a fight in the Dutch parliament over how the government isn't doing enough for developing countries and is siding too much with Wall Street. Not exactly the kind of debate we ever have.

I guess I'm smitten with Euro-envy today.


Sammi said...

Bear in mind that England is nothing like this :P. I want UKIP to come into power after I leave the UK and become a Dutch/French/German national :D.

The UK is simply the worst part of Europe. Our prison system, for example, is terrible. We have so many things wrong with our country at the moment: the public services, housing, the (completely failed) immigration system, not to mention our shoddy economy.