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Paper: Justice Minister seeks tougher release criteria and longer probation for criminals

A group appointed by Finland's Justice Minister Antti Häkkänen is exploring tougher criminal sanctions in order to prevent repeat offenses.

Oikeusministeri Antti Häkkänen tapaa mediaa Mikkelin torilla.
Finland's Minister of Justice Antti Häkkänen Image: Esa Huuhko / Yle

Finland's Justice Minister Antti Häkkänen has appointed a working group to explore the possibility of changes to the country's system of criminal sanctions. He says the reforms would have the goal of reducing recidivism. According to the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, the minister is specifically looking into extending probationary periods to five years, making it harder for offenders to receive conditional releases, and increasing the use of supervision, fines and community service in conditional imprisonment sentences.

A person serving a fixed-term sentence of imprisonment in Finland is currently conditionally released when he or she has served a specified proportion of the criminal sentence. Conditional release refers to the release of a prisoner serving an unconditional sentence of imprisonment or a monitoring sentence to serve the rest of the sentence in freedom. The release takes place under supervision or without supervision in Finland at present.

The probationary period, equivalent to the length of the sentence remaining at the time of release, begins when a sentenced person is conditionally released.

Häkkänen's working group is hoping to enact reforms that would make it more difficult to receive a conditional release from prison, and extend the probationary period from the current three years to five years.

It is also looking to increase the use of ancillary fines or community service in conditional imprisonment sentences. The paper reports that as Justice Minister, he has already negotiated for funding for these initiatives during the government budget talks.

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