'Let us in!': Saint-Gilles prison outreach staff protest entry restrictions

'Let us in!': Saint-Gilles prison outreach staff protest entry restrictions
The prison of Saint-Gilles. Credit: Jonas Roosens / Belga

Around 50 prison outreach workers gathered outside of Saint-Gilles prison on Thursday morning to protest the latest restrictions on the number of staff currently allowed to enter the prison grounds. The restrictions have been put in place due to prison overcrowding.

According to Belga News Agency, prison staff is protesting the latest restriction in place, unfurling a large banner bearing the message "Let us in!" directed at the prison authorities. Among the protesters were educators, social workers, psychologists, lawyers and others.

Due to overcrowding, the prison authorities have only allowed five workers to enter in the past two weeks to see prisoners. Earlier in the year, the number was 20, and before the pandemic, it was around 40 to 70.

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"We are a group of people who allow prisoners deprived of their liberty to work on their reintegration. Therefore, the more we are able to enter to do our work, the better rehabilitated the inmates will be when they get out out," Kris Meurant, President of the board of directors of Fidex, Brussels Federation of Institutions for Inmates and Former Prisoners, said.

The maximum capacity at the prison is normally set at 850, though the number of inmates currently there has been said to have risen above 900.

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