In September 2004 a total of 16,455 persons were held in Dutch prisons, nearly 2.5 thousand more than in 2003. The 18 percent increase chiefly is the result of expansion of prison cell capacity following the introduction of the Dutch cell-sharing scheme.
Number of prisoners
Young male adults imprisoned for violent crimes
The proportion of women in total prison population rose faster between 2003 and 2004 than the proportion of men. The number of female prisoners increased by 30 percent from 840 to 1,085, the number of male prisoners increased by 17 percent from 13,140 to 15,370.
Prisoners by age category
Almost one third of women – a total of 345 – are detained for drug-related crimes; 44 percent were born in Surinam and the Netherlands Antilles. Most male prisoners, some 43 percent, are jailed for violent offences. They are mostly young male adults: half of prisoners under the age of 25 are sentenced for violent crimes. Few older people are imprisoned. In 2004 the Dutch prison population comprised 90 over-65s, predominantly males, of whom 30 percent were jailed for sexual offences.
Prisoners by type of detention, 2004
Sentenced or remanded
The prison population in the Netherlands largely consists of three categories. The largest group, 43 percent of the total prison population, consists of persons who were sentenced to imprisonment. The second group, 39 percent of detainees, are remand prisoners. The third category are other detainees, i.e. persons held in custody, foreigners awaiting deportation and people held under a hospital order until they can be placed in a detention centre for compulsory psychiatric treatment (TBS).
Long-term prisoners mainly men
On the reference date in 2004 1.8 thousand prisoners, virtually all men (only 3 percent are women) were serving a sentence of 4 years or more. Nearly 70 percent of long-term prisoners were jailed for violent crimes, approximately one quarter for drug-related crimes. Some prisoners serving long-term sentences have been in prison since the late 1980s.
Marcelle van Zee and Cheng Wang