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Police Back Premier’s Work Camps Idea To Fight Rising Youth Crime

March 20, 1993

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) _ Although Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers shocked many in this traditionally permissive country with his proposal for work camps for young criminals, the idea is receiving wide approval from police.

Even critics agree that something must be done to counter what is seen as a decay of societal values among the burgeoning number of youthful offenders.

Violent crimes by people under age 18 rose 38 percent during the 1980s, according to government statistics.

Lubbers called on Monday for creating disciplinary juvenile work camps to create ″a societal climate where the value of behaving with respect for others prevails.″

That struck an ominous note for many Dutch, reminding them of the forced- labor camps set up by the Nazis on Dutch soil.

Parliamentarian Gerrit Jan Wolffensperger of the opposition Democrats ’66 party accused Lubbers of ″aggravating″ the debate with the suggestion of camps.

But he agreed there is a need for more ″differentiation in the penitentiary system, better tailored to juvenile delinquents.″

A more favorable view came from Peter Ijzerman, the police commissioner in the city of Enschede and head of the national police chiefs’s organization.

″We can accept these totally unmanageable youths in our society as a natural phenomenon and not interfere with (their) personal lives, but if we want to make the Netherlands a safer place, then we must interfere, and fast,″ Ijzerman said in the De Telegraaf newspaper’s Saturday edition.

Ijzerman offered to set up an experimental youth camp in his area this fall.

Lubbers’ initiative follows years of rising crime and public outrage at reports that jails have had to set criminals free due to a shortage of cells.

On Friday, the prime minister proposed making wealthy criminals pay for their stay in Dutch prisons, which are comfortable by penal standards, with single-occupancy cells and liberal visitation and conjugal rights.

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