Locked Up Over 36 Euros; Immigrants Decry Debtor's Prison in The Netherlands

It's the 21st century, but some elements of Victorian England are alive and well in The Netherlands, where people must "pay the fine right there" should they commit an offense.

I bought a 24-hour tram pass to ride around Amsterdam for a day, hoping to say I saw the entire city and got to know the layout. It was my first time leaving my small city in the South of Spain, and I was amazed at what could be accomplished with nothing but bricks.

After hours of taking inane pictures of life passing by a tram window, I arrived at Central Station in search of a bathroom. I was in a rush and without giving it much thought, ran into a bathroom inside of the nearest train. The train took off, and immediately I heard a knock at the door. A police officer patrolling with a group of train cops were outside waiting for me, asking me why I was using the bathroom while the train was stopped.

I told the policemen that I had a 24 hour tram pass, that I had been riding all day and that I arrived at the station and needed to urgently use the toilet, that I would just continue riding the tram.

The policeman decided to use my words against me, telling me aggressively, "you were riding around all day!"

The cops dragged me out of the train and made me stand on the platform to try and charge me for "riding black."

The officers made me stand on the train platform and demanded that I fork over 36 euros because I was "not registered at City Hall." My card had demagnetized earlier that day and I only had 20 bucks on me and they refused to mail the fine to my residence in Belgium, they decided to take me into custody because I couldn't pay on the spot. 

I spent the night in a jail cell until I was able to get bailed out in the morning, learning a very important lesson about life in The Netherlands: you shouldn't visit unless you can pay the fine right there.