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Reoffending rates among returning Dutch detainees

Around 1,900 Dutch nationals are detained or incarcerated in foreign detention centres abroad every year. Also on a yearly basis, approximately 800 Dutch nationals return to the Netherlands. Little is known about the reoffending behaviour of this group after returning to the Netherlands. Understanding and examining the reoffending rates provides valuable information and can lead to better policies and actions by the relevant organisations. In a study conducted by Matthias van Hall and Laura Cleofa - Van der Zwet three research questions have been answered: (1) What are the background characteristics of Dutch detainees who are detained abroad?; (2) What is the reoffending behaviour of Dutch detainees who are released from foreign detention?; (3) To what extent are the background characteristics of Dutch detainees related to their reoffending after release from foreign detention?

The study has found that a large number of the returned detainees are males in their early forties and are not first time offenders. Furthermore, most of the returned Dutch detainees were born outside the Netherlands and had been incarcerated in European countries close to the Netherlands. Moreover, 23% of the returned Dutch detainees reoffended within 2 years after their release from prison in a foreign country. It is interesting that more than 90% of the returned detainees were not first time offenders when they were detained abroad, but after their return only 23% reoffend again. There are several explanations for this, one being that foreign detention possibly has a deterrent effect. It could also be explained by looking at the age-crime curve, which explains that criminal behaviour decreases when people get older.

Additionally, many returned detainees had been detained in a foreign country due to drug offences. As previously stated, only 23% of the returned Dutch detainees reoffend within two years. Another reason for this could be that people who have been detained abroad for drug offences are involved in organised crime. Previous research has shown that people that are involved in organised crime have higher chances of escaping law enforcement and detainment. Lower reoffending rates could thus also be explained by looking at the type of crimes that are committed. Therefore, it might be that the reoffending rate is in reality higher than the numbers show, but that these people fly under the radar.

Looking at the background characteristics of Dutch detainees and how these relate to their reoffending, then it can be said that Dutch detainees who returned through a sentence transfer to the Netherlands are less likely to reoffend within 2 years after release from foreign detention compared with those who returned on their own. A sentence transfer means that detainees serve the last part of their foreign prison sentence in a Dutch prison instead of in foreign detention. This study has found that better access to regular care facilities has a major impact on people’s life after being released from prison. Consequently, proper care facilities will result in lower reoffending rates. Additionally, the study found that Dutch detainees’ criminal history and their length of imprisonment are not related to their subsequent involvement in crime after release from foreign detention. Regarding criminal history, Dutch detainees who had more prior criminal records had no higher chance to reoffend after release from foreign detention compared with those with less prior criminal records.

Although there are limitations to their research, Hall and Cleofa - Van der Zwet conclude with the importance of this type of research and the fact that further research has to be conducted to obtain more knowledge about reoffending Dutch detainees after being detained abroad. Having more information on this topic can ensure appropriate action and policies by the relevant institutions. Recidivism rates could eventually be lowered. If you want to know more about this topic, read the research paper by Hall and Cleofa - Van der Zwet here.

Source: Oyerepa Online

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