The doors of Forest Prison were closed definitively on Friday, and its last inmates transferred to the brand new Haren Prison in the afternoon, the office of Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne reported.
The vast majority of the prison staff from Forest moved with the prisoners and took up their duties in Haren. The others were deployed to the prison in Saint-Gilles.
“The Forest Prison was totally dilapidated, and the prisoners had to live in degrading conditions; it was not a pleasant working environment for the staff either,” said Van Quickenborne.
“Prisons are not only about punishing people, but also about preparing them for a successful reintegration into our society after their release,” he added.
The transfers from Forest, involving a total of 126 prisoners, had been ongoing for several days. On Friday, the final trips were made to transfer the last 44 inmates. Their personal belongings were transported by truck.
Depending on their profile, the inmates are placed in one of the six living units already operational at the Haren prison. This penitentiary, which opened in late September, is being commissioned in stages. It has 1,144 places and will eventually replace the prisons of Berkendael, Forest and Saint-Gilles.
The women held in Berkendael were already transferred to Haren last week. The transfer from the Saint-Gilles prison is scheduled to start soon.