So far 200 citizens have come forward, but a further 200 are needed if the prisons’ watchdog is to get enough citizens involved to man all 35 of the country’s supervisory commissions. There is one commission for every Belgian jail.
Until now officials staffed the commissions, but starting September ordinary citizens too will be involved. The commissions are being opened up after the EU took Belgium to task: the justice department was checking itself!
Commission members have the job of ensuring that prisoners’ rights are guaranteed. They will visit prisons and process complaints. Citizen commissioners will receive training as well practical information on how to act in prison. Citizen commissioners are supposed to be representative of society at large: men, women, old and young. Most people will qualify, but you do have to be over 18 and motivated.
The job is on a voluntary basis and isn’t remunerated and you will have to supply information on any police record.