Comparing prison systems

Doug Tjapkes says the philosophy of imprisonment for crimes in Europe is a far cry from America's.
Feb 4, 2014

In a recent post on his Humanity for Prisoners blog, the Spring Lake man said he researched prison systems and sentences in Europe, more specifically those in the Netherlands and Germany.

"I started looking into the Dutch prison sentences after a native of the old country recently told me that the sentence there for first-degree murder was seven years, compared to life without parole here," Tjapkes wrote in "The U.S. prison system is doing it wrong." "I was astounded at not only the difference in philosophy between these European countries and ours, but by the incredible difference in statistics. The ratio of incarcerated per 100,000 people is far lower than ours — far, far lower! And yet crime is not rampant in these countries."

Tjapkes is president of Humanity for Prisoners, a Grand Haven-based organization that advocates for compassion for those behind bars, and their families. To read more of his blog, CLICK HERE.

The opinions expressed by local bloggers are not necessarily shared by the Grand Haven Tribune or its employees. They are the sole opinion of the bloggers, who are not employed by or compensated by the Tribune.

Comments

zwesterhouse

Kind of a tough subject. But after working in a prison for 5 years and teaching inmates. The inmates say Washington prisons are the best accommodations among state prisons with Federal Prison trumping them all. Most of the inmates in my classes by majority would take Federal time over state time. Michigan prisons are the pits according over hearing inmate discussions. A goal for a few is to break out of a Michigan prison - grab or kidnap some chick, jump state line into Indiana thus Federalizing their case. Then in the Club Fed they have their own private cell, gyms like our YMCA, better food, medical and dental care. One inmate mentioned committing suicide if the Fed kicked their escape/kidnapping case back to state level. In the global scene prisons in Bangkwang Thailand and North Korea are the most brutal and are tied when it comes to torture and death penalties.

Former Grandhavenite

Wow, I'm really surprised that they would think the federal prison system is better since there's no parole there. In state prison people have a decent chance of getting out well before their full sentence is up.

Sounds like a choice between quality and quantity, only here if you want more quality in the federal system you get stuck with more quantity as well. On the other hand in the state prison system the food is terrible, but at least the portions are small!

16damons

From experience: 1n 1996, because of "overcrowding", Michigan sent an "undisclosed" number of low level inmates to other states... and Michigan profited from this venture as these other states housed the inmates for less cost than than Michigan was able to do. Before being shipped out to other states, these inmates filed many a lawsuit to prevent the transfers. All for not... they eventually spent an average of one year in the custody of another state. Upon their return to the Michigan DOC, they then filed "human rights" discrepancies because life was so much better in "out of state prisons" that being returned to Michigan seemed cruel and unusual punishment. The Michigan prison system is far from the hardest in this nation, but at the same time, it is no bed of roses as many citizens seem to think.

16damons

"Club Fed". Movie theaters, and hotdog carts. Hotplates, pans and a grocery list to be envied. Congical visits for good behavior and no hourly count. An inmate can be missing for 23 hours and not considered an escapee.

KeepingItReal

I thought they were reconsidering that 7 year sentence for murder, after that guy hunted down and killed all of those political science students on that island.

KeepingItReal

I thought they were reconsidering that 7 year sentence for murder, after that guy hunted down and killed all of those political science students on that island.

KeepingItReal

I thought they were reconsidering that 7 year sentence for murder, after that guy hunted down and killed all of those political science students on that island.

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