Close to two-thirds of all prisoners serve their entire terms and are not released on parole, RTBF reported on Saturday in its midday TV newscast.
The situation has changed radically in 10 years, according to Annie Devos, General Director of Prisons for the Wallonia-Brussels Federation. “About ten years ago, approximately 60% of detainees were able to go on parole,” she said. “That figure has dropped to 28%.”
In 2019, 745 detainees remained in prison until the end of their sentence. This was twice the number that did so in 2007.
This evolution reflects tougher regulations. “Sentence enforcement courts have been in existence since 2007 and we saw a drop in conditional releases after their establishment,” Devos said. “Then there were significant legal modifications following important incidents.
“For example, since 2013, the prisoners themselves need to make the application. Before then, there was a systematic review of their situation. In 2019, a new law reinforced eligibility conditions, increasing the requirements. By the time all conditions are met, you’re generally far into the sentence,” she explained.
According to Devos, this situation is not without danger. “There is no guidance, these people (who sit out their entire sentences) find themselves in the street as soon as they leave prison,” she noted.
“If parole is granted, they are accompanied; assistance and monitoring are done by legal assistants. This can be supportive for parolees and provides guarantees for public safety.”