All prisoners are entitled to spend at least one hour a day in the open air
The prison service offers activities to prisoners
The right to access activities and spend time outdoors is guaranteed by Article 49, paragraph 1 of the PBW. Activity-time must not be less than six hours per week.
There are designated places for physical activities and sports
There are designated places for cultural activities
Cultural activities usually take place in the facility’s library.
Prisoners are not involved in the selection of activities.
Registration for activities does not involve a formal procedure. It is usually sufficient for inmates to express their wish to participate.
Prison facilities have a library
Library access is covered by Article 48, paragraph 1 of the PBW.
The library at Lelystad prison is no longer available.
Work is compulsory
First-time offenders are required to perform the work assigned to them (Article 47, paragraph 3, of the PBW). Depending on the detention regime, work may be conducted inside or outside the facility.
Inmates who have been declared unfit for work by medical services are exempted.
All prisoners are allowed to work
Work is compulsory in Dutch prisons. Inmates placed in high-security facilities or in solitary confinement are not allowed to work.
Pursuant to Article 47, paragraph 2, of the PBW, “the governor shall ensure the availability of work, in so far as the nature of the detention does not prevent it”.
Labour as a punitive measure is prohibited
Allocation to available posts is the responsibility of the prison governor.
Prisoners are not entitled to employment contracts.
Maximum daily/weekly working hours are set, including at least one day of rest
Prisoners work an average of 20 hours per week.
Prisoners are paid for their work
The hourly wage is €0.76 per hour.
Retired prisoners are not required to work. They receive an allowance equal to 80% of the basic hourly wage (€0.76).
significantly below the national minimum wage
The minimum wage in the Netherlands increases progressively until the age of 22. The minimum working age is 15. A person of this age earns €56 for 20 hours a week.
A prisoner who works 20 hours a week earns €15.20.
The difference between a prisoner’s wage and the minimum salary on the outside is €40.80 per week.
Prisoners are paid on a piecework basis
Their income is subject to social contributions
Health and safety standards applicable outside are respected in prison
Health and safety standards vary according to the type of work. Such measures tend to be less strict than on the outside.
Prisoners have the right to join trade unions
Education and vocational training
Authority(ies) in charge of education and vocational training
Ministry of Justice
Education is available for all prisoners
Individuals placed in high-security units or in solitary confinement do not have access to education.
Article 48, paragraph 1, of the PBW states that prisoners have the right to participate in educational activities provided that they are consistent with the regime and the length of detention.
The prison service implements measures to fight illiteracy
Prisoners are allowed to pass diplomas and entry examinations
Vocational training is provided
in some facilities
There is no legislation to regulate vocational training. Its provision is usually dependent on the decisions of the governor.
Vocational training is available for all prisoners
Distance courses are available
There are a number of difficulties that restrict access to these courses.
Prisoners must obtain at least one leave of absence to complete any course of study. The prison service does not always grant such permission.
The costs of distance courses are borne by inmates.
Most prisoners have to work owing to a lack of other resources.
Most sentences are less than one year. This does not allow enough time to complete the course.
Prisoners have access to computers
Prisoners do, however, have access to computers at the end of their sentences and in anticipation of their release.
Inmates who possess the necessary skills may, in principle, provide training to other inmates. In practice, such arrangements are not implemented.
Access to information
Prisoners are allowed to keep themselves informed regularly on public affairs
Under Article 48, paragraph 1 of the PBW, prisoners have the right to keep up to date with the news.
Prisoners have access to a television
rented €3 per week
Prisoners have access to a radio
Prisoners have access to the press
Newspapers are available in facilities equipped with a library.
Bonjo is a newspaper published every two months by an organization of the same name. It is produced for prisoners in the Netherlands. It is available in all prisons.
The prison service allows access to Internet
More than 40% of the Dutch population are atheist. The most commonly practised religions are: Catholicism (29%), Protestantism (19%), Islam (5%) and other religions (5%).
The religion most commonly practised in prison is Islam.
Prisoners are free to practice their religion and follow their beliefs
Religious freedom is guaranteed under Article 41, paragraph 1 of the PBW.
Dedicated places of worship are available
in all facilities
There are chaplains in the prisons
The service seeks the presence of Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist chaplains as well as a humanist counsellor (Article 4, paragraph 1, of the PBW).
The prison service remunerates the chaplains
Prisoners showing signs of radicalisation or who have been convicted of terrorism-related offences are placed in two dedicated units aimed at preventing proselytation. The first, established in September 2006, is located in Vught prison. The second, established in January 2007, is located at De Schie prison.
There is no official de-radicalisation policy. A number of experiments have taken place in recent years, such as spiritual guidance by imams. Their access to prisons is relatively new. They would previously be involved at the end of the sentence.
Specific psychological support is also offered.
Individuals or organisations from the outside are allowed to participate in prison activities
Authorisations for external actors to take part in prison activities are provided by
the prison governor
Volunteers from four organisations are authorised to work in prisons:
Bonjo has 1,500 volunteers working across all facilities in the country. The organisation also publishes a newspaper that is distributed in every prison.
In total, there are some 6,000 volunteers involved in prison activities.
Other organisations can be authorised to enter the prison upon request.
External actors working in prisons are largely funded by the state.
Prisoners are allowed to make use of financial resources
Financial resources are accessible
- in cash
- in an account
According to Article 46, paragraph 2 of the PBW, prisoners in facilities where cash is prohibited have an account for their financial resources.
Paragraph 3 provides that facilities may set different rules regarding the possession of cash or the use of accounts. These rules relate, among other things, to the amount of money that inmates are allowed to possess.
Destitute prisoners receive financial or in-kind support
Expression of prisoners
Prisoners are allowed to discuss matters relating to their conditions of imprisonment
A Prisoners’ Committee (Gedeco) is present in each prison. Its members are elected by the inmates. The Committee reports the complaints of the prison population to the prison service. It proposes improvements that it considers appropriate. It meets weekly with the prisoners and regularly with the prison director.
Prisoners have the right to vote
Prisoners vote by proxy (Article 6B of the Electoral Law). The proxy must be registered on the electoral register of the region involved in the election. He or she declares that he or she accepts this responsibility.
Prisoners may also request permission to leave the prison to exercise their right to vote. The service does not publish data on the exercise of this right.
It is also possible to vote by post.
In March 2017, voting booths were installed in prisons for the parliamentary elections. They were available for inmates and staff.
Inmates are not allowed to communicate with the press.
There are no prison radio broadcasts or newspapers.
Bonjo publishes a newspaper every two months on life in prison. This newspaper sometimes publishes articles written by inmates.