• Germany edition
 
Festive prisons release 1,000 inmates
Photo: DPA

Festive prisons release 1,000 inmates

Published: 16 Dec 2012 13:52 GMT+01:00
Updated: 16 Dec 2012 13:52 GMT+01:00

Regional governments can choose to pardon prisoners whose sentences are due to finish over the winter. The idea is to lift the emotional burdern on prisons over the holidays, which a Justice Ministry spokewoman said can be a “particularly difficult” time.

Prison chaplain Friedemann Preuß said the annual gesture was an act of magnanimity. “There's a lot of suffering,” he said. Many prisoners spend the time leading up to Christmas wishing for a perfect family, he added. “It depresses the mood, the spirit.”

In order to qualify, prisoners must have a proven track record of good behaviour and not currently be the subject of any criminal investigations.

Further criteria for early release include not having served time for violent crimes, terrorist activity, theft or drug offences, wrote the Berliner Morgenpost newspaper on Sunday.

However, prisoners must also agree to going home early. Often they refuse the offer because they are reluctant to be released for the festive season, especially when no relatives or loved-ones are waiting for them, said a spokeswoman from Rhineland-Palatinate Justice Ministry.

This year, North Rhine-Westphalia has released the highest number of prisoners and has set 710 people free since November 7. In second place is Hesse, where between 150 and 200 inmates have been let out early to celebrate Christmas.

Only Saxony and Bavaria have refused to keep the generous tradition, arguing that it is not fair on the other prisoners.

“A Christmas amnesty arbitrarily favours prisoners whose sentence happens to end around Christmas time,” said Beate Merk, Baviarian Justice Minister from the Conservative Christian Socialist Union (CSU). Early release had nothing to do with the time of year, added Merk, a position the regional opposition have described as heartless.

Those remaining behind bars over Christmas in Germany typically mark the occasion with church services, skat tournaments or barbecues. One prison, the JVA Castrop-Rauxel near Dortmund in west Germany, even hosts a Christmas market.

DAPD/The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

14:52 December 16, 2012 by Gretl
"Further criteria for early release include not having served time for violent crimes, terrorist activity, theft or drug offences..." Um, what does that leave? Tax evasion? Traffic offenses?
16:30 December 16, 2012 by Morseman
Gretl:

There are dozens of serious crimes (felonies in English common law), which carry a prison sentence although the offender may not be a danger to society: anything from fraud to traffic offenses, as you say.
17:36 December 16, 2012 by auslanderus
What ever to you do the crime, you do the time.....oh wait, do the crime around Christmas and you get out early.....cool idea....not.
Today's headlines
Ebola patient arrives at Hamburg hospital
A practice drill in UKE's isolation unit where the patient will be treated. Photo: Jochen Koppelmeyer/UKE dpa/lno

Ebola patient arrives at Hamburg hospital

UPDATE: The first patient to be treated for Ebola in Germany arrived in Hamburg on Wednesday morning. READ  

Want to avoid driving fines? Swap seats
Photo: DPA

Want to avoid driving fines? Swap seats

A driver in western Germany should not be fined for "negligent driving" because he had swapped seats after a warning sign, a court ruled on Tuesday. READ  

Germany to lock out 'cheating' EU migrants
Demonstrators hold up a banner against Roma deportations in 2013. Photo: DPA

Germany to lock out 'cheating' EU migrants

Germany is expected to announce new measures on Wednesday to expel EU citizens who cheat the country's social security system or commit other crimes. READ  

Police find €20 million of cannabis in woods
The cannabis was found by a walker who alerted police. Photo: DPA

Police find €20 million of cannabis in woods

Police have found 18,500 cannabis plants with a street value of €20 million growing in the woods on the Dutch-German border. READ  

Anti-stress law moves step closer in Germany
Federal Labour Minister Andrea Nahles speaking to journalists in July. Photo: DPA

Anti-stress law moves step closer in Germany

Germany’s Labour Minister Andrea Nahles has given her backing to an anti-stress law, announcing a study into workers' mental health on Tuesday. READ  

Former Porsche execs to stand trial over VW bid
Former Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking (left) and CFO Holger Härter. Photo: DPA

Former Porsche execs to stand trial over VW bid

A German court ruled on Tuesday that Porsche's former chief executive and financial officers must stand trial for alleged share price manipulation in a failed attempt to take over Volkswagen in 2008. READ  

Analysis
How will Berlin look in five years' time?
How Tegel may look from above and an architect's idea for a temporary façade design until ICC's future is decided. Photo: Gerkan, Marg and Partners/Tegel Projekt GmbH/J. Mayer H. & Partner

How will Berlin look in five years' time?

From Tempelhof to Tegel, Berlin's airports cause its politicians headaches. In the first of two articles, The Local looks at plans and problems for development in the city's western half. What's next for the West? READ  

Wowereit confirms December resignation
Wowereit has been Berlin's mayor since 2001. Photo: DPA

Wowereit confirms December resignation

UPDATE: Klaus Wowereit, Berlin's long-serving mayor, confirmed on Tuesday he would step down from his post on December 11th. His popularity has taken a dive over the scandal of Berlin's new international airport. READ  

German woman killed by Tunisian police
Photo: DPA

German woman killed by Tunisian police

UPDATE: The family of a German woman who was shot dead by Tunisian police have accused officers of "executing" the 21-year-old law student from Bonn. READ  

Study shows poverty isn't the same old story
Poverty in Germany looks different than previously thought. Photo: DPA

Study shows poverty isn't the same old story

Germany has a new story about income inequality after years of simplistic thinking about a rich West and poor East. A study released on Monday shows the wealth divide is more between city and country than East and West. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Culture
Sprechen Sie Deutsch? 10 reasons why you should
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The best of Berlin's mayor Klaus Wowereit in 14 pictures
Photo: DPA
Politics
Germany sends burgers and sausages to Kurds
Photo: DPA
National
Size does matter in this case, rules judge
Photo: Matthias Kock
National
Tribes, ties and a movie: A German's Afghan life
Photo: DPA
Gallery
10 things to do before summer in Germany is really over
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The mysteries of Berlin's abandoned theme park
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Education
Raising the bar for law & business in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,428
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd