Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Law and justice are not always the same. When they aren't, destroying the law may be the first step toward changing it

Our attorney general (I know, I know, it's the American term, but Minister of Justice sounds too much like something out of a totalitarian vision of the future) Beatrice Ask wants to use manacles with positioning capabilities to keep track of underage criminals. The Swedish criminal justice system is already using similar manacles for adult criminals.

Back when I was in college, I had a period when I was living at home and studying over the Internet at a college in Sundsvall. I had a number of get-togethers there with the class, and being a poor student and since the school was 520 kilometers away, I had to be creative in finding travel solutions. There was a local trucking company that had a route from my home town to Sundsvall, and I could ride along free of charge, if only the drivers approved. And they did. It's a lonely job, driving a big-rig during five hours in the middle of the night.

One of the drivers had been convicted of assault, beating up a guy when he was drunk, and since he had no priors he didn't go to prison. Instead he wore a manacle around his ankle that kept track of his movements. He was allowed to be at work and at home and drive his truck to Sundsvall and back. Nothing else.

To me, this is a superior form of punishment/treatment. The guy had an alcohol problem, which was treated with Antabus, he got counseling to deal with anger management issues that it seemed like he really didn't have, and then the manacle to make sure he didn't get into trouble.

And now Ask wants to put manacles on underage criminals too. Right on, I say. A combination of therapy and keeping them away from whatever friends etc that are a bad influence sounds like the right way to go.

Of course, there are people opposing this idea, and not surprisingly from the other end of the political spectrum. Former Attorney General Thomas Bodström said (paraphrased and translated) “Beatrice Ask must realize that a manacle is an alternative to prison, and we don't put children in prison.”

But that there is the point, isn't it? This isn't putting children in prison. They can still go to school or work or whatever. And yes, I realize that treatment is needed too, as well as attention from child protective services or something similar to sort out conditions in the home, but just going with treatment is too soft, to me. Prison can turn into a downward spiral into further criminal activities. Using a manacle may seem like the middle ground, something you go for when the others seem to extreme, to either side. To me, though, it sounds like a real solution to a real problem.

Or, you know, you can just go with an exploding collar.

Rutger wasn't sure the collar went with the color of his eyes


Åse said...

Vill inte vara sån, men Martin, det där var en usel jämförelse.

En person med alkoholproblem och en ungdomsbrottsling går det inte direkt att sätta likhetstecken mellan. Det största problemet för ungdomsbrottslingar är omgivningen de befinner sig i då deras vänner är precis likadana. Att genom en fotboja hålla dem kvar i den omgivningen och tro att terapi ska hjälpa är jag extremt tveksam till.

Dock menar jag inte att ungdomsvården som den ser ut idag är bra. Självfallet måste den förändras och förbättras. Men grundidén - att flytta individen från den omgivning som påverkar denne i fel riktning - tycker jag är helrätt.

Så det så. ;)

beardonaut said...

Möjligt att det var en usel jämförelse. The point still stands. Det måste som sagt kombineras med utredning om hemförhållanden och liknande. Att personen i fråga kan gå i skola eller till sitt arbete eller liknande måste anses vara bättre än fängelse.

Säger inte att det är den slutgiltiga lösningen, men det borde åtminstone testas och utvärderas.

Sen kan det ju så klart kombineras med att individen flyttas från den skadliga omgivningen också, utan att för den skulle sitta i sluten ungdomsvård eller liknande.