Justice minister calls for longer prison terms

Justice Minister Beatrice Ask has called for Sweden to apply longer prison sentences for violent crimes such as assault, threatening behaviour and robbery.

On Thursday the government is to launch a new investigation into criminal justice legislation in a bid to ensure that the courts use the full range of sentences at their disposal, Sveriges Radio reports.

“People are often upset by the punishments for assault, serious assault and crimes of this nature. We basically want more stringency to be applied,” Ask told Sveriges Radio.

The minister wishes to see a change to the current situation whereby the toughest punishments are only applied in very specific cases.

The government is to investigate whether is may be possible to hand out longer sentences for criminals previously convicted of similar offences, or who have committed a range of crimes at the same time.

“These things should have a effect on the consequences, and to some extent they already do. But maybe not enough.

“We think the investigator should have a serious think about this issue,” said Ask.

Despite current overcrowding in Swedish jails, the justice minister is not concerned by the prospect of a need for more prison spaces if the courts begin applying lengthier sentences.

“I would like to believe that these are manageable problems, but we will have to wait and see what conclusions are reached by the investigation,” said Ask.

The government will also look at whether more people originating from countries other than Sweden should face deportation if found guilty of serious crimes.

But the government does not only want to lengthen prison terms. The investigation will also look at expanding the extent to which the courts take into account extenuating circumstances, which could lead to some prison sentences being reduced.