Target: Charles Michel, Prime Minister of Belgium
Goal: Praise efforts to increase rehabilitation rates and decrease prison overcrowding.
Prison sentences under one year will be abolished in Belgium as part of a new prison reform plan. The plan, which examines how best to rehabilitate an inmate rather than how best to punish them, will also allow all prisoners with a sentence shorter than five years a chance at release halfway through their sentence. Creators of the bill hope that it will decrease recidivism as well as save hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and take some stress off of the country’s bloated prison system.
A growing body of research suggests short term prison sentences can cause more harm than good. Rather than sending low-level offenders to prison for under a year, alternatives such as community service or probation will be employed. This way, they will be less likely to pick up the bad habits such as drug use or gang activity that run rampant in prisons, says Justice Minister Koen Geens. It will also save many offenders from the hardship of reintegrating into society after prison by allowing them to keep their homes, jobs, and contact with their families.
The prison population in Belgium has been rising steadily since 2000 and is currently 23 percent over capacity. With prison and justice systems in much of the world overloaded, it is refreshing to see countries coming up with innovative solutions to the problem that not only benefit taxpayers, but the prisoners as well. Sign the petition below to applaud the reform of Belgium’s prison system.
Dear Prime Minister Charles Michel,
The Belgian government recently announced that it will be banning all prison sentences under one year in favor of other measures, such as community service or probation. Furthermore, prisoners serving sentences of less than five years will be released automatically after serving half their sentence, unless prosecutors object. The measures were implemented in response to a growing body of scientific research that suggests short-term prison sentences can cause more harm than good by exposing prisoners to bad habits such as drug use and gang activity.
Not only do these measures put the emphasis on rehabilitation rather than punishment, but they will help reduce overcrowding as well as save millions of taxpayer dollars. We, the undersigned, applaud your innovative efforts to change the current state of prisons in Belgium.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Public Domain via U.S. Government