CLOSING DOWN THE SLAMMERS: Netherlands shuttering prisons

The Hague – VIJAY SHAH via CHRIS WELLER, Business Insider and Independent

While many countries are experiencing a boom in their prison populations leading to overcrowded cells and jails, and in the worse cases, lethal riots, the Netherlands is witnessing the opposite. The country has such well behaved citizens that prisons are being shut down, according to the United Kingdom’s Independent newspaper.



In 2013, Dutch correctional authorities closed down thirteen jails, with plans for some to be converted into temporary accommodation for refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war. Another five prisons are expected to be gone by the end of this year, according to internal documents seen by the newspaper De Telegraaf.

While the prison closures are reassuring for the Dutch people, knowing that theirs is a safe society, they will also cost 2,000 jobs with another 700 being transferred to other roles within the country’s law enforcement sector. The prison closures come in the wake of a trend of declining crime rates since 2004, the Telegraph states. There were so many jail cells lying unused in the Netherlands that authorities imported 240 Norwegian prisoners to keep correctional facilities viable.

As well as the measured decline in criminal activities, the Netherlands takes a liberal approach to criminal punishment, choosing to focus on prisoner rehabilitation instead of detainment. Electronic tagging programmes and a relaxed attitude to drug use have also contributed to the shrinking number of the detained. Out of a total population of 17 million, the Netherlands only has around 11,600 prisoners, which works out to 69 incarcerations per 100,000 people.


The Independent, Facebook, Facebook Inc.

“Dutch prisons are closing because the country is so safe” – Chris Weller, Business Insider via The Independent (31 May 2017)


“Prison Bound” – Thomas Hawk, Flickr (28 March 2013)


FEBRUARY AWARD SHOWER: HEM nominated for four gongs

On the 6th February 2014, the Half-Eaten Mind was nominated for four blogging awards by photographer and poetess Patty from the blog ‘Petite Magique’. She has been a keen follower and friend for many months and has nominated the Half-Eaten Mind a few times previously. She has kindly stretched out her love all the way from the Netherlands, across the North Sea to London to rain down a few awards to add to the typhoon of gongs tearing a blingy path our way since the end of last year. Patty herself has also been very much caught up in the awards shower. In fact so many have come her way, that she has had to split them into two delightful batches or ‘bouquets’, christened the Bouquet of Inspiration and the Bouquet of Kindness. 

The Half-Eaten Mind is one of twelve blogs to pick up the Kindness Bouquet, which comes with this snazzy picture of one of the Netherlands’ most attractive and renowned exports: tulips

(c) Patty/Petite Magique Blog

Patty’s bouquet consists of the following treats:

I would like to humbly thank dearest Patty for these beautiful awards, two of which are first time badges for this blog. These two new badges will soon be displayed on our ‘Directories and Awards’ page as per our unwritten rules on new award nominations and award badges. Patty has not specified any award acceptance rules for the Bouquet of Kindness, and as I have a lot to do this weekend I will keep things simple. As always if you would like to accept one, two or all of these dazzling jewels, just leave a comment and consider yourself henceforth nominated. A bouquet of flowers it may not be, but at least you won’t need to a) be female b) gatecrash a church wedding and c) pray to your lucky stars that you have a good catch when the bride flings the flowers…or tosses the tulips.

FUN FACTS about Tulips:

1. Tulips belong to the same botanical family as lilies and are distantly related to onions.

2. Although the Netherlands is probably the world’s largest net exporter of this flower, the Dutch were not the first to cultivate them. They were first grown in Central Asia and then spread to Europe with Ottoman traders. The Turkish tourist board uses the tulip as a symbol of the country, where the Ottomans themselves originated from.

3. The English word ‘tulip’ is said to come from the Persian word ‘dulbend’. The Turks turned this into ‘tuelbent’ (literally ‘turban’) and was adopted into neo-Latin as ‘tulipa’.

4. Tulips arrived in the European continent in the 1550’s. 

5. The Dutch passion for tulips was said to have begun with a botanist named Carolus Clusius who fell in love with the Central Asian beauties and evangelised other scientists and ordinary people to share his passion.

English: Cultivations of Tulips in South Holla...
English: Cultivations of Tulips in South Holland. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons via Alessandro Vecchi

6. Clusius was also responsible for developing the many colours tulips are now sold in.

7. Indeed Clusius’ efforts were so good, that a ‘tulip mania’ occurred in the Netherlands in 1637. The trend snowballed, and many varieties and their bulbs soon changed hands for thousands of guilders, more than was needed to purchase a piece of land to build a house. Many tulip collectors sold their possessions and ran up debts to acquire rare examples.

8. Carolus Clusius was allegedly so disgusted with the hype surrounding his flowers that he refused to sell them to investment speculators. Some were so desperate they stole them.

9. The mania was commented on at the time. A 1641 book, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, was published as an account of the mass hysteria, at a time when our modern attitudes of mass consumerism were almost non-existent. However it is said today, that the tulip mania was itself blown out of proportion by commentators of the time.

10. There are said to be 3,000 varieties of tulips, records of which are painstakingly kept by a Dutch horticultural body. The red coloured ones considered to be most popular.

11. Tulips are edible to an extent. Although care should be taken as part of the bulb contains toxins, they can be made into appetisers, additions to tuna and even brewed into wine. During World War II, food ran out in the Netherlands under Nazi occupation and people ate tulips to avoid starvation. One person at the time, described making and eating tulip bread. He recollected it as tasting like ‘wet sawdust’.

If you want to see the ‘Magique-al’ place where this beautiful bouquet was tenderly and lovingly grown, then your journey of discoevery starts here:

It’s raining Awards! 🙂

“It’s raining Awards! :)” – Patty, Petite Magique (6 February 2014) LINK
“20 facts about tulips” – All Over Albany/ Uptown/Downtown Media (6 May 2011) LINK
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