‘Offensive not to punish prison breaks’

'Offensive not to punish prison breaks'
The Christian Democrat party wants to criminalize breaking out of prison, which at present can be punished with withdrawn privileges for the inmate in Swedish jail.

While only 26 inmates escaping Swedish prisons in 2012, according to statistics from the Prison and Probation Service (Kriminalvården), a section of the Christian Democrat party wants to make it illegal to try to make a break for freedom.

"I think most people feel it's quite offensive that you can try to escape your sentence without it having any consequences," said Christian Democrat Bengt Germundsson, head of Markaryd municipality, who is set to argue for the party including the proposal at its next national congress.

While the Christian Democrats are one of the smaller parties in parliament, they are an Alliance government coalition partner.

The Christian Democrats, who support a criminalization, referred to Sweden's Nordic neighbours, where breaking out of prison can entail between six months or two years in prison. Germundsson, meanwhile, told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper that he did not want comment on how harsh any potential new sentencing should be.

"I am not a lawyer and I don't have the competency to judge that. But we'll review that question," he said.

The proposal has the support of the party's youth wing.

"It's about sending signals. Good behaviour in prison should be promoted and bad behaviour should be discouraged," said former youth wing head Aron Modig.

Yet such a criminalization would risk not deterring the prisoners most likely to try to escape, argued Björn Eriksson, the government researcher who reviewed prison breaks following several high-profile escapes in 2004.

"These inmates have in general committed serious crimes and are serving long sentences. Given those circumstances, the threat of another sentence will hardly stop them from trying to escape," he told Svenska Dagbladet.

"Although it might be a deterrent for inmates serving shorter sentences, but that question falls outside my remit."

TT/The Local/at

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