wanted: political support

Things are moving in Belgium. Recently detention houses were integrated in the government agreement, however, we only see small steps being taken… Is there a problem? Is there a lack of knowledge of political support? Let’s ask some experts in the field!

Guest speakers

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Koen Geens first and foremost is an academic – alongside teaching as a Law Professor he has been very active in education reform and more. Furthermore, Geens is former Minister of Justice and Deputy PM in the Governments of Charles Michel and Sophie Wilmès. By implementing transition houses, he was the first Minister of Justice in Belgium to put small-scale detention on the map.

Imagine that you would be in a hospital of the 19th century or that you would send your children to school in the 19th century and to those buildings... Would you like that? And then in general, they say: "No, no, no, no, we wouldn't like that." Well, that is what happens almost in our prisons.

Stefaan van Hecke is a Member of the Belgian Federal Parliament, for the ecological party Groen. Van Hecke is known for his expertise on justice, as a former lawyer and Member of the Justice Committee (Chamber of Representatives) since 2007. As he strongly believes in the concept of RESCALED, Van Hecke has devoted time and energy to help build up a political support base for detention houses.

The advantages of detention houses is that they are small buildings, who exist already, that we can reuse.

Mathilde Steenbergen was Director of various units in the prison of Bruges for thirteen years. Thereafter, Steenbergen worked as a Justice and Prison Advisor and at present is Director of the Justice Policy Cell of the Deputy PM and Minister of Justice – Vincent van Quickenborne. It is this Policy Cell that includes detention houses in the policy note – and thus has helped emphasize political support.



Pooling our efforts

It seems that we all have gained some experience in deprivation of liberty since the outbreak of COVID-19.