The Minister for Public Health, Maggie De Block, is to launch a pilot project concerning drug consumption in three prisons: Liège, Brussels and Hasselt. She will do so before the end of the year. De Block will discuss it next week with federal entities during an inter-ministerial public health conference. She announced this on Monday, during a drug conference in Ghent.
The minister says that prison drug and medicine consumption is too high and “the availability of mental health care in general, and in particular drug addiction treatment, is insufficient.” Maggie De Block wishes to draw up a plan with the Minister of Justice to improve, during the next few years, such health treatment for prisoners.
The aim is to involve various local players from the health and well-being sector in prison policy. This should enable an improvement in the so-called “revalidation jouney” for prison drug users. As indicated, the pilot project will begin in three prisons.
The minister has requested that all relatively new “General Drugs Policy Units” conduct a study of local best practice. She desires responses on several issues. She says these are “What support is available for such prisoners to return to the labour market? What new interventions are being developed in prisons? What types of housing are available for those leaving prison?” The study should show how collaboration between different players may be improved, to enable prisoners to reintegrate into society.
The results are expected in summer 2018. Once responses have been obtained, the government will examine which aspects of good practice should be disseminated across the entire prison system as a priority.