Most young criminals re-offend after jail

More than two-thirds of young criminals in Germany re-offend after being released from custody – largely due to insufficient preparation made for their release, according to new research.

Most young criminals re-offend after jail
Photo: DPA

Delegates at a conference on youth incarceration in Greifswald heard that increased staffing of the 29 juvenile detention facilities since 1994 had reduced the re-offending rate by nine percent.

“But many former criminals do not cope with their sudden freedom, are unsatisfactorily integrated into society and end up committing new crimes,” said criminology professor Frieder Dünkel at the conference. He said that up to 40 percent of re-offenders commit crimes serious enough to return to prison.

The major trouble identified by the academics at the conference was the lack of provision to help young criminals prepare for life on the outside.

A study by Greifswald University showed a reduction in young criminals being allowed holidays during their sentence, from 8.3 percent in 2006 to 5.8 percent last year, while day release programmes are only run in five of the 16 German states.

The restrictive practices result in young convicts being unable to find their way once they have served their sentences, said Dünkel.

The number of staff, social workers and psychologists employed in youth detention centres has increased over the last few years, so that on average each social worker takes care of 17 young prisoners now – in comparison with 31 four years ago. The number of probation officers has also increased.

But projects which help prepare young people for life after prison are still too thin on the ground, the conference heard.

Youth crime has become a hot topic in Germany in recent months, as a number of violent attacks particularly on public transport, have hit the headlines, with teenagers often being the perpetrators.

An 18-year-old was sentenced to nearly three years in prison last month for attempted manslaughter after kicking a man in the head as he lay defenceless on the ground in a Berlin metro station.

DAPD/The Local/hc

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Driver in Bavaria gets €5,000 fine for giving the finger to speed camera

A driver in Passau has been hit with a €5,000 fine because he was caught by traffic police giving the middle finger.

Driver in Bavaria gets €5,000 fine for giving the finger to speed camera

The district court of Passau sentenced the 53-year-old motorist to the fine after he was caught making the rude gesture in the direction of the speedometer last August on the A3 near the Donautal Ost service area, reported German media. 

The man was not caught speeding, however. According to traffic police who were in the speed camera vehicle at the time, another driver who had overtaken the 53-year-old was over the speed limit. 

When analysing the photo, the officers discovered the slower driver’s middle finger gesture and filed a criminal complaint.

The driver initially filed an objection against a penalty order, and the case dragged on for several months. However, he then accepted the complaint. He was sentenced to 50 ‘unit fines’ of €100 on two counts of insulting behaviour, amounting to €5,000.

READ ALSO: The German rules of the road that are hard to get your head around

In a letter to police, the man said he regretted the incident and apologised. 

Police said it was “not a petty offence”, and that the sentence could have been “even more drastic”.

People who give insults while driving can face a prison sentences of up to a year.

“Depending on the nature and manner of the incident or in the case of persons with a previous conviction, even a custodial sentence without parole may be considered for an insult,” police in Passau said. 

What does the law say?

Showing the middle finger to another road user in road traffic is an offence in Germany under Section 185 of the Criminal Code (StGB). It’s punishable by a prison sentence of up to one year or a fine.

People can file a complaint if someone shows them the middle finger in road traffic, but it usually only has a chance of success if witnesses can prove that it happened.

As well as the middle finger, it can also be an offence to verbally insult someone. 

READ ALSO: The German road signs that confuse foreigners