From July 1 2020, prisoners will be allowed to wear their own clothes, subject to strict conditions, Het Laatste Nieuws reported on Wednesday.
The aim is to fight against the feelings of dehumanisation found in prisons at times and will require changes like installing a wardrobe in every cell.
“Making someone wear trousers that are not his for 10 years is at odds with his mental well-being,” Kathleen Van De Vijver, the spokeswoman for the prison authorities, indicated.
“Until now, clothes have been worn then collected together and washed before being redistributed indiscriminately among the prisoners. By allowing them to wear their own clothes, we want to normalise prison life and limit damage brought about by detention.”
The law authorising the wearing of personal clothing in prison goes back to 2005. Fifteen years later, it has still to be applied. “Specific measures were necessary,” Van De Vijver explained. “Every prisoner will have to wash his personal clothing. It has therefore been necessary to buy and install washing machines.” Eleven prisons have already been fitted out and “the experience is positive,” according to the spokeswoman.
The law comes with strict conditions: T-shirts bearing an insulting or offensive message are forbidden for example, as are hard-spiked shoes. “The wearing of suits is allowed, even though the majority of prisoners are expected to opt for sportswear,” Van De Vijver said.