photo: Pixabay

KRALENDIJK – Stichting Reclassering Caribisch Nederland (SRCN) wants to play in important role in the prevention of criminality on the BES islands, but the clients of the foundation have complaints. “I’m being intimidated by the probation office”, is one of the complaints heard in court. “I show up for my community service but I get sent away”, says a convict.

The probation office feels like there is a high percentage of recidivism, ‘but we don’t have the exact numbers’, says Eric Sinke, director/chairperson of the SRCN.

T.J.* just finished up 30 hours of community service after being involved in a fight: “I went to the probation office three times. I was sent away every single time with the message that they would contact me. That didn’t happen afterwards. After a year I received a letter informing me that I had to come to the probation office immediately otherwise there would be consequences. Now, that doesn’t really help!”

On January 16th 2020, S.A.S.* had to appear in front of the court. She complains to the judge that: “I’m being intimidated by the probation office. They want to know what it is I’m discussing with my psychologist. I don’t have to tell them that, right? Now my probations officer is threatening to send my case back to the Office of the Public Prosecutor. As a client, I have no way of defending myself against the probation office.”

‘I’m being intimidated by the probation office’ – complains S.A.S. in court

According to Sinke: “The quality of the services the probations office offers on the BES islands is very high. But the end responsibility for stopping recidivism rests with the client.”

He wants to be visible in the society so that people get an idea of what the probation office does. People on Bonaire, Saba, and Statia need to understand that the probation period is required for former detainees.

Eric Sinke, director/chairperson SRCN – picture: Nathaly Evertsz-Ipcedencia

“After someone gets released from prison, we stand at the ready to facilitate their transition back into society. But that same society has to understand that we are not social workers. Maybe people don’t fully comprehend that.”

Regarding his own assumption that recidivism is relatively high, Sinke says that they are working hard to generate the current numbers. The probation office also admits that they had a backlog of community service cases that still needed to be carried out. “We worked through a major portion of the community service backlog last year. The backlog was not detrimental to the clients”, according to Sinke.

Client satisfaction
Starting this year, the SRCN has an independent subsidy agreement with the ministry of Justice and Security in the Netherlands. Despite the fact the SRCN has been an independent foundation for a longer period of time, the subsidy, up until now, had been granted by the Dutch probation office.

According to Sinke the clients and the probation officers won’t notice a difference during their daily activities. Still he considers this to be an important milestone. He sees this as a sort of recognition by the Netherlands.

But how does the client feel about all of it? Has the SRCN ever conducted a client satisfaction survey? “We didn’t have the funds for that in the past, but it’s in the works for this year”, Sinke guarantees.

*The names of T.J. and S.A.S. are known by the editorial board.