Jail Tourism Could be the Answer
Crime rates falling so rapidly as to actually depopulate jails sounds impossible in India, and probably in most other parts of the world too. So, Netherlands’ achievement in this regard — with only 35 prisoners serving life sentences — is particularly impressive. It is also enviable that it is now left with the curious task of trying to fill up its prisons, albeit not in the manner usually resorted to by other countries. There are instances of penitentiaries being turned into hotels, museums — like the Cellular Jail in the Andamans and Alcatraz in San Francisco — and even experiential centres such as the one in Telangana’s Medak district that offers one-day stays. But as Netherlands appears to have a glut of empty cells on offer thanks to a surfeit of jails constructed in the 1990s, positing them as B&B tourist attractions would not be viable. No wonder Netherlands is already doing jail tourism of a different kind, by incarcerating convicts sent over by the authorities from Belgium and Norway already, if only to ward off job cuts in the sector. Some high-profile Indian convicts may also be more inclined to spend their terms in salubrious European jails rather than the ill-maintained ones here. Netherlands may not be able — or willing — to offer this facility for denizens so far away, but India could always make discreet inquiries.