“First milestone” – Mentally ill: the new penal system brings change

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The reform of the implementation of measures can be decided by the National Council in December. The Judiciary Committee has prepared the draft submitted by Minister Alma Zadic (Greens) for a plenary meeting on Thursday with the votes of the government parties ÖVP and Greens. Zadic was pleased that the “first milestone” had finally been reached for the accurate adaptation of mentally ill offenders in line with human rights.

Now “the next hurdle has been passed” – and when the new law comes into effect in 2023, “50 years of stagnation will be over,” the minister told the APA. The reform finally brings “clear and fair conditions so that only people who are really dangerous are placed in prison”.

So far no distinction has been made
Until now, no distinction has been made between a mentally ill young person challenging a bailiff and a serious violent offender. Austria was rightly criticized by experts for this.

In addition to a general increase in the penalty thresholds, there will be a separate regulation for young people in the future and more neutral and less stigmatizing wording in the legal text, Zadic outlined the content of the innovations she had negotiated.

Raising the penalty thresholds for pre-crime offences
The core of the reform is raising the penalty thresholds for pre-offences. Mentally ill offenders can only be imprisoned for life if the original crime carries a prison sentence of more than three years (previously: one year) (from one year if there is a danger to sexual integrity or life and limb). In contrast to the past, there are even higher thresholds for the introduction of young people: in the future they may only be imprisoned if they commit a capital crime, ie if they are threatened with a prison term of ten years or more.

The relevant prognostic acts in the case of accommodation in the implementation of measures are so far dangerous threats and resistance to state authority. With the reform, they can no longer be considered legal bases, explains Zadic.

The opposition disagreed
On the other hand, SPÖ justice spokeswoman Selma Yildirim was very dissatisfied with the bill: Zadic “unfortunately has not made a big hit”, relatively little would change in practice, “the overall problem will not be solved”, she said in a broadcast . As early as 2015, the Reform Commission had concluded that two-thirds of detainees had been wrongfully placed in prisons.

“These are shocking numbers, a cosmetic reform will not be enough to remedy these grievances,” said Yildirim, who lacked an adequate range of therapies, including the necessary forensic therapeutic centers or a specification of the terrorism provisions, which still leave too much room for left interpretation. .

Source: Krone

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