Swedish criminals spending longer behind bars

Swedish criminals are facing stricter sentences than they did 10 years ago, according to recent statistics from Sweden’s Prison and Probation Service.

During the past decade, the average prison sentence has gone up 60 percent. Last year the average was 14 months for the 4,700 law breakers convicted, an increase from from 10 years ago where 4,000 prisoners faced on average nine months behind bars, according to Dagens Nyheter.

“Violent crimes and organized crime has become harder,” said Hans Klette, a former professor of criminal law at Lund’s University.

Last year some 6,500 criminals were working off their sentences where as in 1996, only 3,500 were serving time.

“A longer punishment doesn’t always lead to fewer relapses,” Klette said. “If there was some time of treatment, then there could be cause for it (longer prison sentences).”

One category of crimes facing tougher punishment today is drug crimes and sexual crimes. During the past year, several cases in Sweden have received tougher sentences with longer punishments.

“It is serious attacks that demand long treatments, which can actually reduce the risk for relapse. But just a prison sentence is not enough,” Klatte said.

When asked if crimes are worse or if sentencing is just tougher, criminologist Eckart Kühlhorn said crimes have become much worse.

“We can absolutely see that more are abused today than before. Alcohol consumption is up,” he said, according to Dagens Nyheter.

Criminologist Mikael Rying, with Stockholm County’s crime police, said sentencing is the root of the increased figures.

“Absolutely, we can see that murder and manslaughter has not increased in 20 years, but has stayed around 100-120 deaths each year,” he said.

During the 70s, two of three murders were sent to the hospital care, whereas now only one in three are sent to psychiatric care and not prison.

“I can categorically say that judges do not judge harder, but we definitely feel that crimes have become worse,” said appeals court judge Staffan Levén. “The violence has become worse and weapons are used more often.”


Swedish opposition proposes ‘rapid tests for ADHD’ to cut gang crime

The Moderate Party in Stockholm has called for children in so called "vulnerable areas" to be given rapid tests for ADHD to increase treatment and cut gang crime.

Swedish opposition proposes 'rapid tests for ADHD' to cut gang crime

In a press release, the party proposed that treating more children in troubled city areas would help prevent gang crime, given that “people with ADHD diagnoses are “significantly over-represented in the country’s jails”. 

The idea is that children in so-called “vulnerable areas”, which in Sweden normally have a high majority of first and second-generation generation immigrants, will be given “simpler, voluntary tests”, which would screen for ADHD, with those suspected of having the neuropsychiatric disorder then put forward for proper evaluations to be given by a child psychiatrist. 

“The quicker you can put in place measures, the better the outcomes,” says Irene Svenonius, the party’s leader in the municipality, of ADHD treatment, claiming that children in Sweden with an immigrant background were less likely to be medicated for ADHD than other children in Sweden. 

In the press release, the party said that there were “significant differences in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD within Stockholm country”, with Swedish-born children receiving diagnosis and treatment to a higher extent, and with ADHD “with the greatest probability” underdiagnosed in vulnerable areas. 

At a press conference, the party’s justice spokesman Johan Forsell, said that identifying children with ADHD in this areas would help fight gang crime. 

“We need to find these children, and that is going to help prevent crime,” he said. 

Sweden’s climate minister Annika Strandhäll accused the Moderates of wanting to “medicate away criminality”. 

Lotta Häyrynen, editor of the trade union-backed comment site Nya Mitten, pointed out that the Moderates’s claim to want to help children with neuropsychiatric diagnoses in vulnerable areas would be more credible if they had not closed down seven child and youth psychiatry units. 

The Moderate Party MP and debater Hanif Bali complained about the opposition from left-wing commentators and politicians.

“My spontaneous guess would have been that the Left would have thought it was enormously unjust that three times so many immigrant children are not getting a diagnosis or treatment compared to pure-Swedish children,” he said. “Their hate for the Right is stronger than their care for the children. 

Swedish vocab: brottsförebyggande – preventative of crime