Researchers of Erasmus School of Law have made recommendations as part of the evaluation they conducted of the decree Advisory Committee on Life Sentences. Minister for Legal Protection Franc Weerwind is adopting most of the recommendations from the research report.
Currently, prisoners with a life sentence can start with activities to return to society (reintegration phase) after 25 years, following an initial recommendation by the Advisory Committee on Life Sentences. After 27 years of imprisonment, a pardon procedure can be initiated, and, in theory, a life prisoner could be released within two years of starting the reintegration phase. The minister for Legal Protection decides on the final recommendation to the King to pardon a life sentence.
The study and responses from direct partners show that the two-year reintegration phase is too short. According to direct partners, working on reintegration goals within two years is difficult for prisoners who have not been part of society for 25 years or more. The researchers advised that the minister undertakes a broad review of the reintegration procedure to improve and extend the reintegration phase.
The researchers also recommended that the work carried out by the Advisory Committee on Life-Sentenced Persons in the context of reintegration should start earlier and that it should ensure timely availability and completeness of information for all involved organisations. The minister also adopted other points, such as strengthening the Advisory Committee on Life-Sentenced Offenders and its bureau. Weerwind did not adopt the recommendation to differentiate the period of the resocialisation phase. Additionally, he decided to extend the term for all life prisoners from two to three years.
About the research
The study was conducted by Paul Mevis and Pieter Verrest, both Professor of Criminal (Procedural) Law at Erasmus School of Law, and by Claire Hofman, at the time of the study Assistant Professor of Criminal (Procedural) Law at Erasmus School of Law. To evaluate, the researchers conducted literature review of laws and regulations, parliamentary documents, case law and literature and the Advisory Board’s bi-annual reports. They also examined recommendations issued by the Advisory Board as part of its work. They interviewed employees of involved bodies, such as the Advisory Board, the Custodial Institutions Agency, a penitentiary institution, the NIFP, The Dutch Probation Service, The Council for the Administration of Criminal Justice and Protection of Juveniles, Victim Support Netherlands, as well as Forum Livelong Sentenced and lawyers of prisoners serving a lifelong sentence.