Conditions for prisoners' early release should be tightened rather than precluding early release entirely, Prosecutor General Andres Parmas said, in response to new proposals floated by the Ministry of Justice, which wants to exclude the possibility of early release from prison for certain crimes.
The Ministry of Justice is planning to amend the Penal Code to exclude the possibility of conditional release from prison for perpetrators who have committed serious crimes against the state, crimes against humanity, and criminals who have previously been convicted of similar acts.
Parmas wrote in a letter to the Ministry of Justice that the prosecutor's office sees denying early release from prison as leading to a reduction in the discretion of judges. In his view, the proposed amendment could infringe the principle of the separation of powers and the balance of powers, as laid down in Article 4 of the Constitution.
Parmas wrote that the prosecutor's office considers it necessary to note that, according to the intent of the draft bill, there is no evidence the exclusion of conditional release would reduce offenses, so the change may not act as a deterrent.
"Although the amendment extends the period of imprisonment in which the offender has difficulty committing a new offense, it may increase the risk of committing a new serious offense upon release. /.../ The prosecutor's office points out that in circumstances where a detainee should be more motivated to behave lawfully and actively participate in reintegration activities, in the absence of early release, such motivation may be lessened, " Parmas wrote.
Parmas believes allowing the prosecution service to tighten the conditions for early release rather than forbid early release entirely is a preferable solution.
"The prosecutor's office believes it would be appropriate if, in the case of more serious crimes, early release should be considered only after two-thirds of the sentence has been served rather than half. Similarly, in the case of the offenses in question, early release could only take place if imprisonment is replaced by electronic surveillance," he wrote.
Furthermore, the prosecutor's office also thinks there is no need to seek its opinion in the context of an early release procedure, as it is primarily involved in pre-trial and trial proceedings.
Early release proceedings also take place after court proceedings, so the prosecutor's office may not have up-to-date information on the person in question.
Aeg: Simm's early release offended the sense of justice
Minister of Justice Raivo Aeg (Isamaa) said in a speech to the bench that criminals who commit crimes such as those perpetrated by Hermann Simm, who was imprisoned for treason, should not be released before the deadline on the grounds that they are no longer dangerous.
"In this case, there is no need to punish anyone who commits treason at all, because no spy is dangerous after being exposed," Aeg said.
Aeg said there are crimes where the perpetrator needs to know that they will not be released before the deadline, and that they will have to serve their whole sentence.
"That is why I also asked for the drafting of a bill that excludes certain crimes from early release. First and foremost, these are crimes against the state and humanity, but also repeated sexual crimes and murders, as there is a high likelihood that perpetrators will commit such acts again," the minister said.
Editor: Helen Wright