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Buschmann wants a shorter alternative prison term

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Status: 05.07.2022 3:27 p.m.

In Germany, anyone who cannot or does not want to pay a fine – for example due to fare evasion – is liable to an alternative prison sentence. Justice Minister Buschmann now wants to shorten this. This should empty the prisons and reduce costs.

Federal Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann (FDP) wants to revise the alternative sentencing system. In the future, if a fine is not paid, only one day’s imprisonment will be due for two daily rates imposed – until now the ratio was one to one. The time spent behind bars would thus be shorter. A draft of his house was sent to other federal government departments for approval. It suits him too ARD Capital Studio before.

Minor theft or fare evasion

The amount of the respective daily rate depends on the net income of the sentenced person. About a third of fines leading to jail time for non-payment are for minor theft or fraud. Nearly a quarter of cases involve fraudsters.

A decision on whether driving without a valid travel document could soon be downgraded from a criminal offense to an administrative offense has yet to be made under this planned reform. In coalition circles, it is still said that this is still under consideration.

Avoid bottlenecks, reduce costs

In order to avoid alternative imprisonment as far as possible, the Federal Minister of Justice would like the enforcement authority to be required to inform convicted persons in good time whether they can be allowed to avoid alternative imprisonment by through community service. In any case, this information must be given in a form that ensures that a person who does not speak German well understands it.

The benefits of the project would be to avoid bottlenecks in prisons and save costs. According to his ministry’s calculations in 2019, an occupied prison place cost around 119 euros per day on average across Germany, if prison construction costs are not included. Buschmann hopes countries will follow suit.

Association of Lawyers: “This sentence should be abolished”

The system of surrogate imprisonment has long been controversial – critics view the poor in particular as disadvantaged. The Association of German Lawyers criticizes this penalty as being outdated: it “must generally be reviewed and finally abolished”. Non-payment of fines is often a case of incapacity, argues the association. This may be due to financial difficulties or psychological problems and/or dependency conflicts. Criminal law should not punish poverty or social exclusion, but only criminality.

Other motives

However, the draft of the Minister of Justice also contains other planned changes in other areas. Among other things, the catalog of grounds to be considered in sentencing should be supplemented with “gender-specific” and “anti-sexual orientation” grounds.

It involves hate crimes against people because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. Severe punishment should also be meted out if a man pressures or abuses his partner or ex-partner due to patriarchal thought patterns. Such would be the case – within the meaning of the draft bill of the Ministry of Justice – if a man denied his daughter, his sister or his ex-wife the right to freely choose his life partner.

More latitude for judges

Judges should also have more latitude as to the instructions that can be issued in the direction of a successful rehabilitation of the author: for example within the framework of a suspended sentence.

Buschmann, on the other hand, wants to be stricter about the conditions for placement in a rehabilitation center. The purpose of the changes planned here is to focus the limited capacity on drug addicts who actually need treatment in such a facility. In order to achieve this in the future, dependency, which is a prerequisite for such accommodation, should be defined more clearly than has been the case so far.

If the project is approved by the cabinet this autumn, the reform could come into force next spring – provided that the Bundestag and the Bundesrat agree.

Source www.tagesschau.de

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