Matthias Schoenaerts draws attention to a more caring detention policy

Hollywood actor Matthias Schoenaerts together with some inmates created a graffiti painting in the courtyard of the prison of Oudenaarde. He wants to draw attention to a more caring detention policy. Matthias Schoenaerts has been for some time now ambassador for RESCALED, an international movement that advocates the replacement of prisons by small-scale detention houses anchored in society. The movement has its roots in Belgium where vzw De Huizen fully supports a penitentiary revolution.

The graffiti painting depicts praying hands against a black background with cracks. The work of art wants to be a symbol of hope. In a new world that is breaking through, there is no longer room for types of punishment that alienate people from each other. A meaningful punishment needs to focus on a restorative approach connecting people. This is realised by setting up detention houses that are strongly anchored in the neighbourhood. Change needs to come from within and starts from the bottom. It is no longer pieced together outside of society, which no longer works, if it ever has.”

The houses - international

​Hans Claus was invited by Farapej to talk about RESCALED and detention houses as a solution for the prison overcrowding in France.

“Mon approche du problème de la surpopulation dépasse les discussions sur la quantité, la capacité, la loi ou la procédure. Elle souligne l’importance de la qualité. Nous devons construire une exécution de la peine privative de liberté en conformité avec les valeurs d’une société qui est en train de se construire. Afin de recourir de nouveau à une punition qui nous semble équitable, parce qu’elle soutient une société plus juste.” - Hans Claus

You can read the full speech here.

Want to know more about the European movement RESCALED? Surf to .

Call for candidates for the operation of transition houses

​The federal public service of justice has launched a call for candidates for the operation of transition houses. The first step in the necessary and total reform of our detention system becomes concrete.

Legislative change voted for placement in transition houses

On 28 June 2018 the 'amendments to the law of 17 May 2006 on the external legal position of the condemned to deprivation of liberty and the rights granted to the victim in the window of the criminal execution' including the insertion of a chapter II bis Placement in the transition House has been voted in the Chamber. These amendments shall enter into force on 8 July 2018.

The Houses is heard in the Justice Commission of the Belgian House of Representatives

The 25th of April 2018, The Houses was heard in the Justice Commission of the Belgian House of Representatives, about the law proposition containing various provisions in criminal matters, with the changes in the law on transition houses (p. 75-81).

Recommandations note

Following the decision of the Belgian Government to start with pilot projects with transition houses as the first forms of detention houses in Belgium, we wrote a note with recommendations concerning the start-up of such transition houses. The recommendations are aimed at Governments, including both the Federal and regional Governments and local authorities, and organizations interested to set up a transition house.

The recommendations note contains texts about the solution plan, small scale, the personnel plan, the location plan, the neighborhood plan, the road map and some inspiring examples.

Masterplan Minister of Justice Koen Geens

On May 13, 2016 the Minister of Justice Koen Geens oresents his plan on prisons and internment, in a joint press release with the Minister of Social Affairs and public health Maggie De Block and Deputy Prime Minister of Security and Internal Affairs Jan Jambon.

A differentiated detention policy, with transition houses, is one of the four pillars of this Master plan: “There will be transition houses with a total of 100 places: these are small scale projects in which certain detainees (selected on the basis of a number of criteria) by the end of their sentence get the opportunity to spend the last part of the sentence in a transition house. There they are intensely assisted and guided to return to and better function in society.”

The houses as a model voor innovation in rehabilitation at the 2017 ICPA conference in London.

We presented The Houses as a model for innovation in rehabilitation at the ICPA (International Corrections and Prisons Association) conference in London in October 2017, under the title ‘Building better futures in better buildings’.

Architect students at the UHasselt again create a series of scale models for possible detention houses.

Detention houses in 'Punishment. A penological perspective'

Detention houses are named in ‘Punishment. A penological perspective’ by Kristel Beyens and Sonja Snacken (2017, Maklu), thé criminological reference work for the next decade, more specifically in the chapter about the ‘Belgian policy regarding the prison sentence and its alternatives’.

Discussion in the Justice Commission of the House of Representatives 8 juli 2015

The 8th of July 2015 there is a discussion about detention houses in the Justice Commission of the House of Representatives.

Label Flemish Architect

The Houses receives the label 004 of the Flemish Architect.

With the BWMSTR Label, the Flemish government Architect wants to pick up innovative and policy-relevant ideas from the research and design practice, and support unsolicited research in the early stages. The winners are given a modest budget to create a file for their project to find its way among policy-makers and administrations.

“Can scaling down new prisons and forensic psychiatric institutions lead to lower recidivism rates and generate profit as a society? The non-profit The Houses aspires a pilot project with spatial design research testing. The pilot project can give an idea of how and in what manner this vision on detention can translate within the structure of an urbanized landscape and the associated public policy. Simultaneously with this pilot project a network is developed that transcends the current, for detention dysfunctional breakdown ‘live - work - care - justice’ within government and administration.”

Standaard Solidarity Award

In 2013 The Houses was the laureate of the Standard Solidarity Award.

The ad calls for small-scale detention houses. Young people can come back to life there, work on the restoration of their errors, and take responsibility. The ad was created by communications agency What’s in a name? by Bruno Seys and Filip Vandewiele and appeared three times for free in the newspaper De Standaard.

‘Naughty boys matter’ appeared with 23 other full-page ads by non-profit organizations in De Standaard, after a preselection from over 100 entries. A jury of leading creative directors – Jens Mortier of Mortierbrigade, Odin Saille of Boondoggle and Jan Teulingkx from Saatchi – and representatives of the newspaper itself – Gert Ysebaert, Publisher,Emmanuel Naert, marketing manager, and Karel Verhoeven, editor-in-Chief – brought the selection to a shortlist of three; next to the bars that become a story, also the messages of Memisa and Studio Straid, and Natuurpunt and Duval Guillaume Modem jumped in the eye.

The Houses receives the prize for most deserving criminological project of the Association of Graduated Leuven Criminologists

The Association of Graduated Leuven Criminologists (VLAC) honored us with the price for most deserving criminological project!

“What is special about this project is the interdisciplinary nature. Of course the achievement of this ambitious project requires time, commitment, perseverance and a broad social basis. Time, commitment and perseverance has vzw the houses. In addition, the concept of detention houses also on international interest. With this prize, we hope to do a small contribution to the further development of the social support that is necessary for the success of this project.”

Resolution in the House of Representatives

On 10 October 2012 Sarah Smeyers, president of the Justice Commission, introduced a proposal for resolution ‘to set up a pilot project differentiated sentence implementation’ to be adopted by the House of Representatives. This resolution was signed by Renaat Landuyt, Sophie De Wit and Stefaan Van Hecke.