A short history of EM in Belgium EM was first mentioned in 1995 by a member of parliament of the extreme-Right party Vlaams Blok, in a parliamentary question to the minister of justice asking whether Belgium intended to follow the Netherlands in its experiments with EM. The answer was ambivalent. Although the minister of justice did not like the idea, the possibilities for experimenting were there (Beyens 1996). The Belgian Criminal Justice Policy Service was asked for advice and formulated some rather unfavourable advice about the possible introduction of EM (De Buck and D’Haenens 1996). However, interest in EM increased, and in 1996 it emerged in a White Paper by the minister of justice, De Clerck, titled ‘Penal policy and prison policy’ (Minister of Justice 1997, originally 1996) as a possible substitute for a prison sentence that could help to reduce the prison population. To date, however, no public debate on the expediency of EM in the Belgian penal context, its penal objectives and other fundamental ethical issues has ever been held. On 1 April 1998 an experiment with EM began in a Brussels prison (Bas 1999) and a study was promptly ordered to investigate the experiences of the people being made subject to EM and to evaluate the experiment.2 Due to very strict eligibility criteria in the early stage of implementation, EM was only a moderate success from a quantitative point of view. Very soon it was decided to extend the experiment by a year. To get more prisoners under EM, the eligibility criteria were widened and the number of prisons that were involved increased.