Life sentenced prisoners will get additional year for reintegration

People sentenced to life imprisonment and allowed to work towards a possible return to society will be given more time for reintegration. This was decided by Minister Franc Weerwind after a consultation. However, this means they cannot be released until a year later.

People sentenced to life imprisonment should not simply be kept in prison for their entire lives. After 25 years, a special advisory council on life sentences must issue an opinion, or the prisoner must initiate a possible return to society.

If the minister approves, the process can then start. This does not yet mean that the person will also be pardoned and released. The minister will not consider this until 27 years of the sentence have passed. In the meantime, the minister checks how the rehabilitation and reintegration has gone. This then takes a maximum of two years; in practice, it is more likely to be a year and a half.

Experts have pointed out to Minister Weerwind that the period between the start of reintegration and the possible pardon is too short. Therefore, in the future, Weerwind wants to consider pardons only after 28 years, so that one year longer can be worked on reintegration. It is not yet clear when these regulations will come into force.

Weerwind also wants to examine whether the furlough regulations should be changed. Perhaps life inmates will soon be allowed to stay overnight outside of prison during their furloughs. Currently, this is not allowed.

Until 2017, people sentenced to life in prison basically stayed in prison for their entire lives. This is no longer allowed, according to rulings by the European Court of Human Rights and the Supreme Court, as it violates human rights. It was replaced by the system with reintegration options and possible pardons.

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