Published On: Tue, Sep 10th, 2019

Container cells arrive, budget-deficit for housing inmates in the Netherlands

HMS Pelikaan arrive in St. Maarten 20190907

PHILIPSBURG – The navy support vessel Hr. Ms. (His Majesty’s) Pelikaan delivered eleven of the 22 container-cells from Bonaire to St. Maarten last week. The containers will be placed in the yard of the Pointe Blanche prison and facilitate the return of inmates that are currently behind bars in the Netherlands and elsewhere.

After Hurricane Irma half of the cells at the prison became unfit for housing detainees. The prison’s capacity dropped from 120 prisoners before the hurricane to 80 after the monster storm. Bringing back the 23 inmates that are currently in prisons in the Netherlands is urgent from a financial point of view. The Netherlands charges €265 per prisoner per day, so per September 10 of this year, after 252 days, the costs for 2019 amount to €1,535,940 ($1,689,534 or 943,874 guilders). The 2019 budget has a provision of just 494,000 guilders for detaining prisoners in the Netherlands.

Foto TIM VAN DIJK

Nico Schoof, chairman of the Progress Committee has his doubts about using the container cells. “They will be placed in the yard of the prison and therefore there will be less space for recreation,” he told Caribisch Netwerk.

Plans for the construction of a new prison are more or less in limbo because the government currently has no money to execute the project. The Progress Committee said in its 32nd report that Pointe Blanche needs a capacity for at least 150 inmates for the period of four years it would take to build the new detention facility.

Commandant HMS Pelikaan Ad van de Sande

While the Pelikaan delivered the container cells to St. Maarten, two other navy vessels prepared for a mission to hurricane-stricken Bahamas. On Saturday Zr. Ms.Snellius departed and on Sunday Zr. Ms. Johan de Wit followed. The vessels carry donated goods from St. Maarten companies and 650 military personnel to the disaster area. The trip from St. Maarten to the Bahamas is 1,685 kilometers and the vessels will arrive at their destination on Wednesday.

Helicopters aboard HMS Pelikaan

Photos by Tim van Dijk.