Postwar developments in Dutch penal policy encompass one period of sustained reduction in the scale of imprisonment (1947-74), producing the most humane penal system in Europe, followed by a second (1975 to date) in which that trend reversed, producing an imprisonment rate that exceeds the European average, with adverse consequences for the character of prison regimes. The causes of the initial period are not self-evident, taking place while crime was rising, and based on a philosophy of minimizing the resort to custody. Key elements of that approach continued from 1975 to the mid-1980s, during a period of sharply rising crime rates. The period of sustained recarceration after 1985, and its prolongation, into the 1990s and beyond, entailed a sweeping reconfiguration of penal policy. Managerial, instrumental, and incapacitative measures took precedence over previous goals of resocialization and restorative justice.
Crime and Justice: a review of research
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Bownes, D., & van Swaaningen, R. (2007). The road to dystopia? Changes in the penal climate of the Netherlands. Crime and Justice: a review of research, 31–71. Retrieved from