First News
Volume:8, Number:03
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Around The World 4
THIS WEEK

New Twist in Empty Prisons As Crime Rates Fall

Voices echo around the magnificent, luminous dome of Breda prison, breaking the silence of the 130-year-old building, now empty of inmates like dozens of others in The Netherlands. Falling crime rates over the last decade, as well as changing ideas about punishing criminals have robbed this penitentiary of its original purpose, and its gates clanged shut in 2014. Unlike the previous occupants, some 90 businesses hold the keys to the building, free to come and go at will. There are now only 38 prisons still in operation in The Netherlands, with 27 closed since 2014. Six were sold for about USD23 million, while others have been rented out, often as centers for asylum seekers, bringing in a total of around USD20.5 million. After leaping crime rates swelled Europe's prison population in the 1990s, numbers in The Netherlands have dropped thanks, in part, to prevention programs and a greater focus on re-integration.

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