The number of inmates in the country’s prisons has again exceeded 11,000 last month, making prison overcrowding cap by 10%. The General Office of the Penitentiary System (EPI) published these figures last month.
In August, there were 10,907 prisoners in Belgium. Last month, this number reached approximately 11,046 prisoners, distributed among 35 prisons in the country but also in the Netherlands.
On the other hand, prison capacity has decreased from 10,058 seats in August down to only 9962 in November. Overcrowding therefore reached 10.9%, while it was still below 10% last August. The increase in the number of prisoners is “seasonal,” said spokesman of the EPI Laurent Sempot on Monday. “We find that this figure remains stable or declines slightly in January and increases between February and June. The prison population declines again during the summer months, before a recovery to rise in September.”
The difference compared to August is particularly attributed to the closing down of certain areas, mainly for maintenance. “The closing down of the D wing of the prison in Forest also plays a role”, he added.
The prison population has fallen sharply throughout the year; since November 2014, 11,529 people were behind bars, with an overcrowding rate of 16.6% considering the year as a whole. This decrease is attributed among others to “easing electronic monitoring procedures.” For the office of the Minister of Justice Koen Geens, “the trend is clearly going down.” The entry into force of the law “Potpourri II” is expected to continue in this direction.
It provides, as of next year, including “the possibility of repatriating the prisoner still without residence permits who did not obtain release of the court to sentence enforcement or has itself chosen to undergo all his afflictions, and that, in the six months before the end of sentences “against two months now.