Failing State? Belgian prison chaos prompts fears of national malaise

Belgium’s prison system has been condemned as “disastrous” by senior lawyers, almost four weeks into a strike by warders. And the dispute, involving penitentiaries in Brussels and French-speaking regions, shows no sign of being resolved.

Some of Belgium’s top judges and lawyers gathered outside Brussels’ Palais de Justice on Friday to protest against what they say is the government’s long-term failure to fund a creaking justice system.

Belgium’s prisons have long been infamous for poor conditions and overcrowding.

“Security is terrible, conditions are mediaeval,” says one former inmate at Forest prison, one of Belgium’s most notorious institutions not far from the centre of Brussels.

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