Why is prison escape not a crime in the Netherlands?

Two Dutch prisoners escaped a prison in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, on Tuesday 21 June 2022. Convicts with a so-called terbeschikkingstelling – TBS – sentence are in this correctional facility. TBS can be translated to the discretion of the state. Also known as under the Dutch Entrustment Act.

It is primarily a security measure that the courts can impose to protect society if a person has committed a crime while suffering from “defective development or morbid disorder of his mental faculties” and there is a fear of recurrence. For example, there may be a personality disorder or psychosis.


They will not receive an additional penalty for this prison escape alone. Escaping from a prison or closed institution is not punishable in The Netherlands. Here you can read how that works.

Lawyer Explains Dutch Laws

Dutch researchers and lawyers assume that people’s natural urge for freedom cannot be suppressed. “Everyone strives for the right to freedom“, criminal lawyer Desiree de Jonge van Cleerdin & Hamer lawyers explains to the Dutch news site


According to lawyer De Jonge, it is unreasonable to criminalise prison escape.

The Dutch criminal lawyer makes a comparison with the right to remain silent that suspects have. “It is also not mandatory to, by talking, contribute to your own punishment.” If you don’t take advantage of an opportunity to escape, you are in effect contributing to your own punishment.

Consequences Legal Prison Escape

Making prison escape a criminal offense will probably not lead to fewer escape attempts. In 2019, the Dutch cabinet had the option of making escape a criminal offense to be investigated by the University of Amsterdam.

The researchers argue that punishment has no clear added value. Moreover, according to them, the number of escapes in the Netherlands is limited.

Number Of Prison Escapes in Holland

Between 2010 and 2015, there were about 10 attempted prison escapes per year in the Netherlands, of which almost three quarters failed.


Prison Sentence For Mentally Disordered Offenders

A Dutch prison specially equipped for so-called TBS sentences is also a form of deprivation of liberty, escaping from this is also not punishable. “The government already has all the power in its hands, because they can detain you,” says Dutch lawyer De Jonge.

If guards aren’t paying attention and leave a door open, it would be inhumane to punish you for walking out. Anyone would do that.


Assisting Prison Escape Is Punishable

Providing help with an escape attempt is punishable in the Netherlands. De Jonge gives one of her clients as an example. The man was suspected of aiding in a failed prison escape attempt with a helicopter from the Dutch prison in Roermond in 2017.

During the attempt, the police shot and killed one of the suspects. De Jonge’s client was sentenced to years in prison.

Criminal Offenses During Escape

Criminal offenses that you commit during a prison break in the Netherlands also simply result in punishment. In practice, it almost never happens that you walk outside unhindered. During a prison break you almost always do something that is not allowed.


A prison is of course built to make escape as difficult as possible,” explains lawyer De Jonge. “If you force a door or take a guard hostage in order to escape, you are committing a criminal offense. punishment for.

Cutting an ankle bracelet is also a criminal offence. That is seen as destruction. Your sentence will not be extended, but may be increased after a capture attempt.

Prison Escape Example

A prisoner who tried to escape from a prison in Veenhuizen in 2019 had to spend two weeks of his remaining sentence in solitary. He also lost the chance to be released from prison due to his escape attempt.


Prisoners who try to escape also run the risk of being transferred to the Extra Secure Institution (EBI) in the Netherlands. Leaves and other privileges are then revoked.

It is still unknown what the consequences are for the TBS-prisoners who escaped in The Netherlands in June 2022. We do not yet know whether they committed any criminal offenses during their escape. A fence has been destroyed, but it is not yet known who exactly did it.

How many prisons are there in the Netherlands 2021?

There are 26 prisons in the Netherlands. This is apparent from the infographics of the Dutch Department of Judicial Institutions from 2021.


How many crimes in Amsterdam?

In 2021, 63,531 crimes were recorded by the police in the municipality of Amsterdam. The number of crimes in Amsterdam has fallen considerably in recent years. In 2012, there were still 97,727 crimes committed in the Dutch capital. This is shown by research from


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