Ministry of Justice wants life sentences for repeat offenders, more support for ex-cons

Inside Viru Prison. (Postimees/Scanpix)
10/12/2016 6:32 PM
Category: News

The Ministry of Justice has proposed introducing the opportunity to order mandatory life sentences for dangerous repeat offenders in the future, as well as increasing support for ex-convicts and those on parole.

The ministry wants to introduce mandatory life sentences for offenders found guilty of murder a second time as well as serious bodily injury, rape or crimes against the sexual self-determination of children in cases where the offender has previously committed a similar crime.

At the same time, the Ministry of Justice also wants to amend the procedure for the release of prisoners from life sentences on parole to allow offenders who have made sufficient efforts during their life sentences to be eligible for release to open prison after having served 20 years of their sentence and release on parole with electronic monitoring after having served 25 years of their sentence.

Currently, nearly 70 percent of convicted criminals are released from prison without any form of supervision or support, and many lack housing, employment and the skills necessary to live an independent and lawful life, which is why the ministry would like to more widely implement parole and ensure better preparation for convicts’ release from prison.

The ministry would also like to utilize the opportunity to apply deportation as an additional punishment for foreign criminals in accordance with the practices of the European Court of Human Rights.

The Ministry of Justice is encouraging public discussion regarding its proposals and will be gathering opinions on the matter before beginning to develop the text for a relevant amendment bill.

State Prosecutor General Lavly Perling told ERR’s online news portal that the Prosecutor’s Office has always stressed that the punishment must fit the specific crime as well as be effective and appropriate for that particular person.

"[The punishment] must demonstrate the state’s attitude to the victims and law-abiding citizens as well as ensure the judicial peace which was shaken as a result of the crime committed," said Perling. "Repeat offending demonstrates that the initial punishment has not had an effect [on the offender] or that its effect has been lost."

According to the prosecutor general, the reaction of the Prosecutor’s Office to repeat offenses must be unavoidable, robust and as speedy as possible.

"Alcohol and drug addictions specifically are often those [factors] which give rise to repeat offending, and in addition to criminal punishment, it is important to ensure measures which would help minimalize the risks of committing repeat offenses, whether that includes broader state control over those on probation, the application of post-sentence supervision of conduct or social programs aimed at getting over withdrawal or violence," explained Perling.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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