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Belgian prisons must improve conditions (by 2039)
Belgian prisons are required to meet new standards after a new decree was passed. But the country's 35 prisons have 20 years to bring their buildings up to date.
Although 20 years seems like a long time, there is a lot of work to be done. The decree has updated standards for area, height, width, brightness, security and hygiene for each cell.
Every cell must have an area of at least 10m², a window of at least 1 m² and a separate sanitary space. Cells that hold two people must have an area of at least 12m². Some prisons currently have two inmates sharing 9m².
The head of Andenne prison said this will require a lot of work. The walls are not simply walls - they are reinforced concrete walls. To get out of having to tear them all down, the prison would need to put every person in their own cell, but there are not enough rooms for that.
An impact assessment is currently being undertaken to figure out how to get all the prisons up to date within the allotted 20 year timeframe. Some of the prisons date back to the 19th century.