• 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

Over 1,000 prisoners will be let out early in time to spend Christmas at home as part of a traditional seasonal amnesty, according to media reports over the weekend.

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
German football
Bayer regain fourth in battle for Champions League spot
Photo: DPA

Bayer regain fourth in battle for Champions League spot

Bayer Leverkusen regained fourth place in the Bundesliga on Sunday with a 4-1 romp at Nuremberg in their battle to retain their Champions League place for next season. READ () »

German ladies net Fed Cup final appearance
Germany's Angelique Kerber celebrates her victory over Australia's Sam Stosur with teammates after their match in the Fed Cup semi-final. AFP Photo: Patrick Hamilton

German ladies net Fed Cup final appearance

Angelique Kerber put Germany into their first Fed Cup final in 22 years with a fighting victory over Australia's Samantha Stosur in the semi-final in Brisbane on Sunday. READ () »

Germany should make use of shale gas: EU
EU commissioner for Energy Günther Oettinger pictured in Luxembourg in 2013. AFP Photo: Georges Gobet

Germany should make use of shale gas: EU

EU energy commissioner Günther Oettinger has urged Germany to make use of shale gas options and added that the he saw no danger of Europe's access to Russian gas falling victim to possible economic sanctions in the standoff over Ukraine. READ () »

Tennis aces close in on Fed Cup final
Members of the German Fed Cup Team celebrate after an earlier victory in the tournament. Photo: DPA

Tennis aces close in on Fed Cup final

Germany took hold of their Fed Cup semi-final on Saturday, winning both the opening day singles to lead Australia 2-0 in Brisbane. READ () »

Croatia extradites ex-top spy to Germany

Croatia extradites ex-top spy to Germany

Croatia extradited a former Yugoslav spy chief, Zdravko Mustac, to Germany on Thursday to face charges for the 1983 murder of a dissident on German soil. READ () »

German court jails Somali pirate for 12 years
An officer of the Lower Saxon Criminal Investigation Department (CID) securing evidence on the hijacked ship Marida Marguerite. Photo: DPA

German court jails Somali pirate for 12 years

A German court has sentenced a Somali pirate chief to 12 years in jail for hijacking a ship off the Horn of Africa and tormenting its crew during an eight-month ordeal. READ () »

New app helps clients find prostitutes
Photo: DPA

New app helps clients find prostitutes

While the German government is considering tightening prostitution laws, Berlin entrepreneurs have developed a smartphone app to connect sex-workers with clients. READ () »

Highs of 22C forecast for Easter weekend
Photo: DPA

Highs of 22C forecast for Easter weekend

The days running up to Easter may be cool and wet, but the holiday weekend should be a bit warmer for most of Germany, according to forecasters. READ () »

Berlin man must call himself a mother
The fight over the transgender man's right to be his child's official father has been raging since last year. Photo: DPA

Berlin man must call himself a mother

A transgender person who became the first man in Germany to give birth in March 2013 must be registered as the child's mother, a court has ruled after his year-long court battle to be named a father. READ () »

Study: rape convictions fall sharply
Photo: DPA

Study: rape convictions fall sharply

The chance of being convicted of rape in Germany has more than halved in the past two decades to fewer than one in ten, a major study revealed on Thursday. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Rhineland
Elderly man taped €200,000 to his genitals
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
What's the unemployment rate in your area of Germany?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Nine ways to celebrate Easter like a German
Photo: Galerie Bilderwelt
Gallery
World War I in colour photos
Photo: DPA
Society
'The mafia has infiltrated every sector in Germany'
Photo: DPA
Society
JobTalk: Why you should teach English in Germany
Photo: DPA
National
330,000 sign up against TV licence fee
Photo: DPA
Hamburg
School kids hospitalized after 'porno' party
Photo: Submitted
Frankfurt
'I'll get even with my old pal Schwarzenegger'
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The week in pictures: April 5th - April 11th
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Ten great inventions you (probably) didn't know were German
Photo: J. Arthur White
Berlin
Clashes in Berlin as refugees tear down their own camp
Advertisement:
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Munich's baby polar bears are finally named
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The 10 best German employers to work for
CurrencyFair
Sponsored Article
Why it pays to avoid banks when making overseas transfers
Mr. Lodge
Sponsored Article
How to find a furnished rental in Munich
Sponsored Article
How to make a lasting impression in business
Hult International Business School
Sponsored Article
What they don't teach you at Business School
Photo: DPA
Society
Nine jobs you can only do in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

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

3,024
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd