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Dutch prisoners could get remote knee locks

Conrad Quilty-Harper
February 22, 2007
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The Dutch Ministry of Justice recently announced that special knee locks to prevent prisoner escapes could be tested later this year if parliament gives its approval. In the Netherlands, a "furlough" system is used to gradually reintroduce prisoners that have committed serious offenses back to society: instead of letting prisoners out when their term ends, they are accompanied by a guard to visit relatives, and gradually given more freedom until it is deemed that they are ready for unsupervised parole. Unfortunately, there have been several cases where prisoners on leave committed serious offenses like rape and murder by slipping away from their guards. The purpose of this test is to see whether a knee locking system -- which prevents a prisoner from moving if they move a certain distance away from their guard -- can prevent these kind of unfortunate cases. As draconian as this system may sound, it's probably the most humane of all the solutions that were looked at: prisoners could potentially have had to wear gadgets that gave them electric shocks or injected drugs to prevent them from escaping. The best part about this whole case is what justice ministry spokesman Wim van der Weegen compared the system to: illegally parked cars. Probably not the best analogy he could have used -- badly parked car = potentially inconvenient. Escaped prisoner = potentially capable of murder -- but we'll give Wim the benefit of the doubt this time, and mark it up as lost in translation.

[Thanks, Joel]



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