Located in the Brussels region, the prison of Haren opened in the fall of 2022. With a capacity of 1190 places, it is the largest prison in Belgium. It is both a remand prison and a prison for convicts and accommodates men and women. There is also mother and baby unit on site as well as a psychiatric section, a medical centre and a secured clinical observation centre.
Consisting of 19 buildings, each with its own function and with mutual interaction, it is more a prison village than a regular prison. There are buildings housing inmates and buildings with communal facilities. Allowing inmates to walk around autonomously on site, in a secure manner, contributes to their independence.
The residential buildings are divided into separate living units where inmates live together in small groups. They are also arranged in such a way as to encourage inmates to do chores similar to those in normal life. The different units allow for a tailored approach and regime, ranging from (more) open to high-security zones. Central buildings with communal facilities are the so-called ‘town hall’ where inmates can go for all kinds of services and activities as well as the entrance building. There are also buildings with workhouses, logistics services, staff canteen, offices for staff, etc.
The new prisons of Haren and Dendermonde are the first Belgian prisons where custodial tasks are carried out by detention counsellors and security officers, new specialised staff roles replacing the sole role of prison officer.