Test run for new prison: 55 lawyers are voluntarily imprisoned in Belgium

In Belgium, 55 judges and prosecutors are learning about life behind bars first hand.

Test run for new prison: 55 lawyers are voluntarily imprisoned in Belgium

In Belgium, 55 judges and prosecutors are learning about life behind bars first hand. Before the opening of a new prison, they will be incarcerated there under realistic conditions. But there is one major difference to the future prisoners.

In Belgium, 55 judges and prosecutors volunteered to be imprisoned in order to experience the prison conditions first-hand. They are to be treated there like prisoners until Sunday afternoon, according to the Belgian Minister of Justice, Vincent Van Quickenborne. The detention should be made as realistic as possible, it said in a statement.

"Of course the judges and prosecutors know how prison works," said Van Quickenborne. However, experiencing this for yourself can help law enforcement officials to impose well-founded sentences.

The experiment is taking place in the town of Haren in the Brussels region, where a new prison for almost 1,200 prisoners is due to open at the end of September. According to Van Quickenborne, the campaign gives prison staff an opportunity to prepare for work at the facility.

The judges and prosecutors volunteered for the experiment, according to the statement. They must obey the prison staff's instructions and are not allowed to use their cell phones. Family visits, on the other hand, may be received as with real prisoners.

The 55 volunteers also have to do kitchen and laundry chores during their stay. The lights go out at 10 p.m., the Ministry of Justice said. Unlike real inmates, however, the volunteers can stop the experiment at any time - for example, if they "have trouble coping with being in prison."

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