Ten prisons get drug treatment programme

The number of prisons in Belgium with professional drug counselling services has risen from three to 10. Prison authorities are now looking to hire clinical psychologists or remedial educationalists to help with addiction problems, public health minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Vooruit) and justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open VLD) said on Friday.

Drug use and addiction are more common in prison than in society. Both increase the risk of reoffending after an inmate is released. “We must ensure that detainees are guided from day one of their detention to take back control of their lives and get back on track,” said Van Quickenborne. “Drug treatment programmes are crucial to this when you know that one in three inmates struggles with drug addiction.”

"Drugs often lead to violent behaviour or psychological problems, and they lead to a lot of crime in our society"

Pilot projects on drug addiction issues started in 2017 in the prisons of Hasselt, Lantin and Saint-Gilles, financed by the FPS Public Health. Based on the policy recommendations following those pilot projects, it was decided to increase the number of prisons offering the projects. The intention is to expand that number at a later date.

“Drugs often lead to violent behaviour or psychological problems, and they lead to a lot of crime in our society,” said Vandenbroucke. “It is therefore important that these pilot projects are expanded from three to 10 prisons and that they are structurally embedded.”

Every prison with a drug project gets at least one additional psychologist or remedial educationalist to monitor addiction problems on a daily basis, examine inmates before they enter a drug treatment programme and provide feedback to prison medical staff. Fourteen new staff will be hired to work on the counselling services.


Dendermonde prison, which will operate a new drugs counselling service © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK


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