Crime in the Netherlands has declined steadily since 2004, and more than 20 of the country's prisons have been closed. There are a number of reasons for this dramatic change in the Dutch prison system, including more relaxed drug laws, a focus on rehabilitation instead of punishment, and a successful electronic monitoring program that allows offenders to turn their lives around more easily. In fact, there are now so few inmates that the Netherlands is "importing" prisoners from countries like Norway and Belgium in order to keep their remaining prisons open.
Less crime, different punishment:
- In the Netherlands, only 11,600 people were jailed in 2017, a rate of 69 incarcerations per 100,000 people -- compared to a rate of 716 incarcerations per 100,000 people in the United States, the highest incarceration rate in the world.
- One empty prison south of Amsterdam has been converted into an upscale hotel. Other former prisons have been used to temporarily house migrants.
- Dutch crime rates have dropped 25 percent in the past eight years, but critics say that the statistic is misleading, as many police stations have also closed, making it more difficult to report crimes.