Thursday, June 10, 2010

Denmark has lowered the age of criminal responsibility

Press-release posted on facebook:

Recently the Danish parliament voted to lower the age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 14 years of age. They did that while Denmark continues to fail to honor the conventions of the right of a child because they detain minors in the same prison as adults whenever the juvenile detentions are overbooked.

Now it turns out that they in fact did lower the age of criminal responsibility to 12 but the denied the children aged 12 and 13 to legal aid because they have made it an administrative decision whether a child of this age should wear an ankle monitor to ensure that the child will remain at home outside school.

We find it awful that a country like Denmark which in other situations work to spread the use of democracy would teach the future voters that they are not considered human enough to qualify for legal aid.

We are fully aware that the core of the Danish problem with juvenile crime is that residential treatment is an enormous burden for the budget in the social sector. It is so huge a burden that all minors know that they are more likely to avoid consequences of their crime if they commit it late in a budget year.

But the answer is not to use the courts to enforce treatment of what is basically a social problem. The bill will end up at the social sector regardless of who will take the decision.

The answer must come from the social sector itself. They must remove the standard approach which is to maintain a reluctant approach with the individual case until residential treatment cannot be avoided. A focus on local treatment options would lower the total costs.

An ankle monitor cannot provide counseling. An ankle monitor will not be a consequence for a child committing a crime if it is put on without letting the child go through the proper legal process where it is confronted with the victims of the crime so the child is given time to reflect on the actions which led to the legal process.

We must urge that Denmark revoke this decision and find a method to lower the cost in the social sector with other treatment methods and a strategy based on local and early intervention.

Kriminel lavalder sænket til 12 år? - blog entry in Denmark by Birthe1951
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