Foreign national prisoners, profile, participation, prison activities, organizational analysis


This mixed-method study first provides insight into the Belgian prison population — particularly foreign national prisoners — based on an analysis of the penal database SIDIS Suite (N = 10,356). Second, qualitative telephone interviews have been conducted with the activity coordinators of all Flemish and Brussels prisons (N = 17) to investigate which prison activities (e.g., cultural, educational, and health-related activities, sports, vocational training, and forensic welfare services) are available to, and accessible by foreign national prisoners. This article demonstrates several initiatives that have been taken to enhance foreign nationals’ participation in prison activities and highlights the struggles that activity coordinators face in offering activities that are suitable for this population.

Author Bio

Prof. dr. Dorien Brosens (ORCID: 0000-0003-4321-5450) – corresponding author

Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Department of Educational Sciences, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussel, Belgium

Email: Dorien.Brosens@vub.be

Tel.: +32 2 629 26 27

Dorien Brosens is a member of the research group “PArticipation and Learning in Detention” (PALD). Currently, she is involved in the FIP2-project - a research project about Foreigners Involvement and Participation in Prison. Besides, she is also involved in the PAC-project, a research project about Prisoners’ Active Citizenship, co-funded by the European Commission.

dra. Flore Croux (ORCID ID: 0000-0002-3950-1246)

Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Department of Educational Sciences, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussel, Belgium

Ghent University, Department of Special Needs Education, H. Dunantlaan 2, 9000 Ghent, Belgium

E-mail: Flore.Croux@vub.be

Flore Croux is doing a joint PhD at the Department of Educational Sciences of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the Department of Special Needs Education of Ghent University. Her PhD research focuses on the formal and informal participation of foreign national prisoners in prison life. This PhD research is part of the FIP2-project (Foreigners’ Involvement and participation in Prison) which is funded by the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO).

dr. Bart Claes (ORCID ID: 0000-0001-5863-6878)

Avans Hogeschool, Expertisecentrum Veiligheid, Postbus 90.116, 4800 RA Breda, The Netherlands.

E-mail: b.claes@avans.nl

Bart Claes is a member of the Centre of Expertise on Social Security. Currently, he is involved in research projects on implementing strength-based approaches and restorative justice practices in Dutch prisons. Additionally, he is an executive board member of the European Forum for Restorative Justice and involved in EU-projects on exit-programmes for radicalized prisoners, co-funded by the European Commission.

Prof. Dr. Stijn Vandevelde (ORCID: 0000-0001-9491-9509)

Ghent University, Department of Special Needs Education, H. Dunantlaan 2, 9000 Ghent, Belgium

E-mail : stijn.vandevelde@ugent.be

Stijn Vandevelde is an assistant professor at the Department of Special Needs Education at Ghent University. His research and research interests include forensic special needs education; the support of persons in vulnerable situations; and the rehabilitation of persons who have committed criminal offences. His research is underpinned by strengths-based approaches.

Prof. Dr. Liesbeth De Donder (ORCID: 0000-0003-4999-5902)

Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Department of Educational Sciences, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussel, Belgium

E-mail: Liesbeth.De.Donder@vub.be

Liesbeth De Donder is a professor at the department of Educational Sciences and head of the PALD research group. She teaches Participation to Civil Society and Community Development, Research Practicum and Thesis Seminars. Her main research interests are social inclusion and exclusion, participatory methodologies, feelings of safety, and elder abuse from a quality of life perspective.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


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