The Netherlands recently announced that it will close eight prisons because of a lack of criminals. The Dutch justice ministry said that declining crime rates in the Netherlands mean that although the country has the capacity for 14,000 prisoners, there are only 12,000 detainees. The decrease is expected to continue, the ministry said.
Earlier, Brown faced a serious dilemma on how to reduce California’s prison overcrowding to below 137 percent of capacity by the end of 2013, as ordered by the Federal Courts. A three-judge special panel ruled in 2009 that widespread overcrowding in California prisons is unconstitutional because it constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment.” The US Supreme Court upheld that ruling in 2011 and 2012 when the Department of Corrections had failed to act. A federal judge ordered the state to release thousands of low-level offenders before their sentences expired.
Prison facilities operated at 200 percent capacity for more than a decade.
“Building new prisons is not an option,” Brown said. “We can’t afford to spend taxpayer money to erect more jails which is only a temporary solution.”
So, rather than sending prisoners to various county jails which is opposed by most local governments, or releasing prisoners before their time is served, Brown said that California will lease the eight prisons in The Netherlands and transfer some 2,000 of its heavy offenders and those with longer jail sentences.
The Dutch government appears to be receptive to Brown’s idea and is contemplating on renting out the Dutch prisons to California at below market rates. Final negotiations are underway.