Ruysselede, a town of West Flanders, Belgium, 14 m. S. S. E. of Bruges; pop. about 7,000. It is the seat of a celebrated reformatory, which was opened by the government in 1849. Although under one direction, it is divided into three distinct schools, two for boys at Ruysselede and Wynghene, near each other, and one for girls at Beernem, about two miles distant. The children received are vagrants, truants, street beggars, and the like, not properly criminals, but in danger of becoming so. The age of admission is from 7 to 18 years; the term of committal is during minority; the average stay is about three years, some going away in three months, while others remain eight or ten years. The institution is conducted on the congregate plan, the boys sleeping in large dormitories. The principal labor is farm work on 240 acres, including a kitchen garden of 19 acres, with a large stock of horses, cows, sheep, and hogs, and model farm buildings. In winter various trades are carried on. The wool and flax grown on the farm are spun; woven, and made up into garments; the straw is plaited and made into hats; and the hides are tanned and shoes made. Even the table beer is brewed on the farm.
The institution is not only entirely self-supporting, including the expenses of administration, but in 1871 there was a net profit of 3,000 francs, and in the previous four years a total gain of 10,000 francs. In August, 1872, there were 522 boys at Ruysselede. At Wynghene there were 50 boys in training for a seafaring life, but also working on the farm and in the shops. The reformatory at Beernem, opened in 1853, contained in August, 1872, about 250 girls, chiefly employed in lace making, sewing, and laundry work. They are in charge of a religious sisterhood, but under the general superintendence of the director at Ruysselede. The girls gain in proportion to their number more than the boys, their earnings amounting to 100,000 francs a year. From 1849 to 1873 about 5,000 boys had been received. The present director, Eugene Poll, believes that substantially all the children sent to Ruysselede are saved, as the percentage of those who turn out badly is almost zero.