When in Bruges… (scroll down for Dutch)
A usual trip to Bruges would mean a walk by the romantic canals and then a beer and a plate of endives wrapped in ham in one of Belgium’s oldest traditional cafés.
But not on Tuesday, Tuesday my co-judge Herman Van Dender and our host Wim Opbrouck from Bake Off Flanders and I were invited by the inmates from the Drug-free wing of the prison of Bruges. Drug-free means these inmates have a history with drugs and want to stay clean, others just want to sit out their sentence in a drug-free environment, because the rest of the prison is full of drugs. Sadly there isn’t much that the prison can do about that, the drugs comes in with the visitors and there is no legal way of checking those who visit for carrying hidden drugs. Furthermore checking inmates is not without rules, regular urine checks or full naked body checks aren’t legal. Even though some of the inhabitants have done serious crimes, this doesn’t mean they are stripped of their human rights.
But at the drug-free wing where we were a guest last night, the prison is allowed to do regular checks because the inmates welcome it. The waiting list to get into this wing is long. Inmates who stay clean, get privileges and one of these privileges is that they are allowed to organise things together. Last week they did an Italian food competition, this week we are here to judge their baking skills.
The three of us are checked rigorously, it takes a while before I get through the metal detector since my hair contains about a hundred bobby pins. We then go on a photo for our badge and are walked to the drug-free wing by the prison’s psychologist Maarten; a cheerful tattoo covered guy in his twenties. I jokingly ask him if he used to be an inmate here, making fun of the prejudice that comes with peeps with tats….