The inside of the new prison in Haren.

Dozens of magistrates to go to prison (as a test)

The new prison building in Haren (Brussels) will be tested by a couple of dozen... magistrates. The members of the judicial authorities can volunteer for a short spell as inmates: they can experience what it is like to live in a prison and they can try things out to see if everything works properly. The new prison is expected to open in October.  

The new gaol will be able to accommodate 1,190 inmates as from October. It will replace the old prison buildings in Sint-Gillis, Berkendael and Vorst. The Francophone daily La Dernière Heure writes that various magistrates wil have the chance to experience what life is like in Haren, and to test things out. 

The appeal for volunteers among the magistrates was an overwhelming success, with about 160 wanting to join. Would-be inmates will stay inside for two days and one night. They will not have a smartphone, but only a telephone with a fixed line. Navy blue clothing is prohibited, as are sharp tools and food items. The meals will be supplied by the prison kitchen. Inmates can buy extra snacks or drinks in the cantine.  

Magistrates will have an extra compared to the "real" convicts though: they can end the project immediately by using a codeword ("Terminus").  "They will be able to experience daily-life conditions, but it is hard to simulate other mental aspects linked to uncertainties: how long will you be locked up, and who will you have to share your prison cell with?" experts say. 

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