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With a recent reports of overcrowded cells and the generally poor conditions in country?s prisons, the opposite seems to be happening in the Netherlands.

The country is actually closing eight prisons because of a lack of criminals, the Dutch justice ministry is  saying.

Declining crime rates in the Netherlands mean that although the country has the capacity for 14,000 prisoners, there are only 12,000 detainees.

The decrease is expected to continue, the ministry said, with Deputy justice minister Nebahat Albayrak saying that natural redundancy and other measures should counter any forced lay-offs.

A report last year on prison overcrowding said that surging populations undermined the rehabilitation of prisoners and risked increasing reoffending in the future.

The Criminal Justice Alliance (CJA), which represents more than 60 organisations, called for the government to urgently limit ?the unnecessary use of prison, ensuring it is reserved for serious, persistent and violent offenders for whom no alternative sanction is appropriate?.

It came after Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick said the rising pressure on prisons from budget cuts and increasing numbers cannot go on indefinitely.

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