• Germany's news in English

Victims' groups slam prisoner 'time out' plans

The Local · 10 Apr 2012, 16:50

Published: 10 Apr 2012 16:50 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Helping criminals would seem to have higher priority than helping victims, Veit Schiemann, head of the victim's group Weisser Ring told MDR Info radio on Tuesday.

"Such a long-term time off after five years of jail would severely shatter citizens' sense of justice," Bernhard Witthaut, the chairman of the GdP police union said in a statement.

"People who commit premeditated murder should spend the rest of their lives in jail," Gabrielle Karl told The Local. She founded “Victims Against Violence”, a Bavaria-based non-profit group offering counselling and assistance for crime victims and their families.

Karl said her 18-year-old daughter was murdered in 1995 by a man who had been previously convicted of numerous serious crimes.

Under the plan, which could become law in several states this year, a violent offender would be able to apply for holiday release after just five years rather than 10 as is currently the rule.

The prisoner would be subject to an intense psychological evaluation, said Frank Schauka, spokesman for the Justice Ministry in Brandenburg, one of the 10 states behind the plan.

The application would be granted "only when it can be determined that the person represents no danger," Schauka told The Local.

The current rules prevent prisoners from applying until they have served 10 years in prison, and limits their potential holiday from behind bars to 21 days.

This three-week limit is not included in the current proposal and more time could be awarded, Schauka said, adding that he could envision prisoners being allowed time out several times a year.

The idea behind the proposal was to make it easier for hardened criminals to integrate back into the society. Studies have shown that reintegration becomes more difficult after five years, Schauka said.

The plan was initiated by Berlin and Thuringia and is backed by all the former east German states as well as Bremen, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland and Schleswig-Holstein.

Story continues below…

The police union head said he suspected that the plan was being introduced because of budget concerns and the lack of qualified personnel in Germany's prisons. Schauka rejected that, saying costs had nothing to do with it and reintegration was the goal.

The Local/mw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

15:51 April 10, 2012 by auslanderus
What happens when one of these vacation dirt balls kills, robs or hurts a child? Ya, back in jail they go, but it's to late then for the victom. Wake up people, there in jail for a reason and not a picnic.
18:37 April 10, 2012 by Landmine
Crazy Germans, I think we bombed them too much....
23:51 April 10, 2012 by rutledm
"only when it can be determined that the person represents no danger," really? There's someone that can positively make this determination after a mickey mouse question and answer session? Wow, impressive.
04:15 April 11, 2012 by wood artist
While there clearly are "realities" associated with this proposal, and I'm not ready to take a stand one way or the other, I think the basic question...which must be answered first...is one of intent.

Do we use prisons to punish, or do we use prisons to rehabilitate?

If they're purely for punishment, then don't let them out ever...until their sentence is complete. However, by doing that, don't be surprised if they have a tough time finding an appropriate place in society. They apparently didn't have one when they went in, and likely didn't find out during their sentence. In fact, they're more likely to be "lost" coming back to a world that has changed...and they didn't understand in the first place.

On the other hand, "holidays" might be a way to build upon whatever rehabilitation has been done, allowing them to understand the theoretical lessons they've been taught inside.

In the end there never will be guarantees. That's true for convicts and for everyone else too. The "nice guy" who lives next door might become the next mass murderer or serial arsonist...and wishing won't change that.

10:43 April 11, 2012 by DoubleDTown
Two words: Willy Horton

13:30 April 11, 2012 by domoresti
REACTIONARY: But what if it was your wife or child one of these scumbags murdered?

LIBERAL: What if it was your wife or child who was the perpetrator?

Both equal in merit and sentiment.
12:29 April 18, 2012 by raandy
I don't believe prisions do much in the rehabilitation arena.

I would not support this program for offenders convicted of violent crimes.

It would be safer for the public to have an in house program where family could come and stay and wives and significant others could have conjugal visits.
Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd