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Deputy Chancellor of Justice slams sentence enforcement delays 

In one case, a convicted offender ended up in prison nearly two years after an appeal court handed down its sentence. 

Näkymä vankilan ikkunasta kaltereiden takaa.
Näkymä vankilan ikkunasta kaltereiden takaa. Image: Jarno Kuusinen / AOP

The Deputy Chancellor of Justice has condemned Finland's appeal court over delays in enforcing prison sentences. The deputy Chancellor's criticism followed a wide-ranging analysis, which unearthed one case in which a convicted offender ended up in prison nearly two years after an appeal court handed down its sentence.

The report from the Chancellor's office paints a picture of widespread and long-term problem that has affected almost all of the country's appellate courts.

"Enforcing sentences is an essential part of ensuring criminal responsibility and a credible criminal justice sentence," deputy Chancellor Mikko Puumalainen said in a statement on Wednesday.

According to established practice, after sentencing, the court passes on its judgments for enforcement by the Criminal Sanctions Agency, Rise, which manages Finland's prisons.

The report indicated that there have been lengthy communication delays between the institutions in dozens of cases. In some instances the information gap was reportedly caused by shortcomings in the electronic system known as Ritu, a criminal conviction management system widely panned by legal and IT experts for its slow and clunky user interface.

However the analysis by the Chancellor's office noted that the system was responsible for only a small portion of the delayed enforcements.

"In extreme cases a delay could mean a lapse in enforcement, which would mean that criminal liability remains entirely unfulfilled," Puumalainen observed.

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