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.

  • Hard Little Machine

    Open the gates and let them all out. Let the animals run the zoo. May as well. We’ll be able to see the flames from orbit.

  • Brett_McS

    Sounds like it’s no better than in my Father’s time there, at St Giles, although they had a better class of prisoner then: Allied airmen, German army deserters and common criminals. The (temporary, as it turned out) new owners of the prison had a good system for preventing overcrowding, though: Rifles at dawn, each and every morning.

  • Alain

    Although I have not seen their prisons, I have reason to question this claim based on personal experience with Corrections Canada. Even though Canadian prisons were more like Club Fed, prison activists (lawyers, HRCs, etc.) never stopped claiming they were intolerable.