Netherlands: Different prison approach for different cultures

Most parliament members support forbidding "blinging" and reinstating prison uniform in youth prisons.

Parliament member Dijsselbloem wants to "break the taboo" in which a prison sentence doesn't take into account the cultural background. De facto it means that immigrants are treated differently than ethnics.

Dijsselbloem wants to break the macho-culture among immigrant detainees. "Take away from the kids, for example, expensive brand name clothing and bling-bling."

His party, the PvdA, had spoken earlier about differentiating treatment on basis of cultural differences. This is the first time that the party makes a direct link to Moroccan and Antillean criminal youth.

In an explanation Dijsselbloem said that he wants to "radically break the ghetto culture and group identity, that are now common inside the institutions."

Parliament member Cörüz (CDA) said that he is happy with the PvdA support. "Ethnic youth grow up with a guilt culture, immigrants more with a shame culture. to therefore adapt the punishments is logical". He is not talking about tougher measures, but rather different ones. "Take them off quicker from their scooters and jewelry, and they'll understand that crime doesn't pay."

The union of prison personnel is less enthusiastic about re-introducing prison uniforms. "If you do that they you can't do it only by youth installations, but everywhere. We did away with it a decade ago because it was too expensive. It won't be any different now," says chairman Aalbers. He doubts the effectiveness. "Personnel don't look at the clothing of detainees, but at their behaviour."

Source: NRC (Dutch)

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