Many prisons in Belgium date from the end of the nineteenth or the start of the twentieth century and the prisons in the Brussels-Capital Region are no different.
These prisons no longer meet the current-day standards of comfort, not only for the detainees but also for the staff. Apart from that, they no longer tally with the modern views of incarceration and reintegration into society.
To address these issues, an innovative overhaul was launched and a master plan drawn up for a humane prison infrastructure.
The design of the new Haren prison is based on the principle of a prison village, i.e. a series of buildings spread across the site rather than one huge building, with a capacity of approximately 1,190 detainees.
The prison complex will, on the one hand, consist of a number of buildings with communal facilities such as visiting areas, workshops, a sports hall and, on the other hand, of several buildings where the detainees will be housed. Detainees will be able to move between their own building and the communal facilities in a secure and controlled manner.
Also to the internal experience a lot of thought has been given. The various living units will each have a clear place within the prison complex and will be clearly recognisable.
The idea is that moving away from the typical outdated prison layouts with their long corridors and replacing them with housing that is more akin to everyday life will stimulate group living and foster social interaction between prisoners and guards. Detainees will for instance have access to a pleasant communal area, linked to the communal facilities of the various living units, which can be supervised from the gangways.