Drug use and responses in prison in Netherlands 2017

Netherlands Country Drug Report 2017

Drug use and responses in prison

There is no recent information about the prevalence of (problematic) substance use among prisoners in the Netherlands, but studies published between 2003 and 2009 suggest that around 4 out of 10 adult Dutch prisoners had substance use problems before being sent to prison.

In general, the prison system has implemented a policy aimed at discouraging the use of drugs, by creating drugfree settings by limiting the availability and use of drugs in prisons.

The Ministry of Security and Justice is in charge of health services in prisons and funds drug treatment in prisons. Continuity of care and equivalent access to health services are basic principles of the treatment of prisoners.

Cooperation between prisons and the drug treatment system was strengthened in 2015. Drug treatment measures in prisons include evidence-based behavioural intervention and mental care services. If needed, prisoners can be referred to treatment services outside prison (as an alternative for imprisonment). Repeated offenders who exhibit drug use problems on entering prison may be placed in an Institution for Prolific Offenders, which also offer several treatment interventions inside and outside the prison system. Those who were in a methadone maintenance treatment before imprisonment can continue the treatment during their imprisonment. Special treatment for those dependent on benzodiazepines or GHB are available. Naloxone is available in every penitentiary institution, in case of an emergency.

After release from prison, treatment and care services should be implemented by municipalities. Addiction probation often plays a supervising and helping role in this process. ‘Safety houses’, are networks of local organisations working together to reduce crime. Criminal justice organisations cooperate with municipalities, the social sector and care organisations to better combine and integrate penal and rehabilitative interventions for offenders.

Continuity of care and equivalent access to health services are basic principles of the treatment of prisoners


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