Steep rise in underage prisoners

The number of people under the age of 18 who are serving sentences in juvenile detention centres has risen sharply over the last five years.

According to prison service figures, there were 123 young people in Sweden’s youth units last year. That’s an increase of 151% compared to 1999, reported Dagens Nyheter.

“Violent crime committed by young people is rising and that is worrying,” Minister for Public Health and Social Services, Morgan Johansson, told the paper.

Johansson also tried to paint the picture in a more positive light by claiming that another reason for the increase was that more serious crimes involving young people were being solved by police.

News of the rise came as one of Sweden’s most notorious young killers, Eddie Jönsson, was in court facing charges of violence and threats against prison officers and serious robbery following his escape from Sundbo secure youth unit in August.

He and two accomplices were caught 24 hours later but the incident sparked serious criticism of the lax security at the Sundbo centre – not least because it was only a month since Jönsson’s last escape.

Staff at Sundbo have all received extra training in an attempt to prevent further escapes.

“The public has the right to expect that someone who has committed murder or some other violent crime will be kept securely in prison,” said Morgan Johansson.

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