Last year, 828 prisoners were freed after completing their full sentence. This has come in a response by the Justice Minister Koen Geens (Flemish Christian Democrats) to a question by the federal deputy Philippe Goffin (Conservative/Liberals) and is reported in De Standaard today (Monday).
This is an astounding record number.
Prisoners falling, in particular, within this category are those with sentences under five years.
They can choose either to serve their whole sentence or to have a conditional discharge, which is anticipated as subsisting for longer than an actual sentence. The conditions for the latter have, however, become stricter.
“A prisoner freed at the end of his punishment is literally let loose in the streets,” Eric Maes, of the National Institute for Forensics and Criminology (INFC), explained, when underlining the importance of this record number.
He went on, “There is almost no support for them. They often have no network by which to reintegrate themselves into society and are financially vulnerable.”
Mr Maes says that a prisoner opting for conditional discharge is subject to certain conditions “giving him both a structure and a particular direction.”
He concludes, “If they do not fulfil these conditions and threaten to fall back into their criminal ways, they are brought back into line.”
The Brussels Times