What America Can Learn From European Prisons


Certain aspects of the German and Dutch prison systems may be useful to American prison reformers looking for answers to lighten the load of overincarceration, according to a new report from the Vera Institute of Justice.

In February 2013, delegations of corrections and justice system leaders from Colorado, Georgia and Pennsylvania prison facilities in Germany and the Netherlands, where they spoke with inmates, researchers and prison officials.

Their report describes the considerably different approaches that Germany and the Netherlands take in sentencing and corrections.

Both countries “have significantly lower incarceration rates than the United States and make much greater use of non-custodial penalties, particularly for nonviolent crimes,” the reports authors wrote.

Among their takeaways, was that the United States should expand prosecutorial discretion to divert offenders, reduce reliance on incarceration as a first response, “expand the menu of sanctions” to include alternative options for disciplinary violations, treat young offenders as a special population, and “normalize” conditions within prisons.

Read the full report HERE.

Comments are closed.