Punishments without sense | TIME ONLINE


What counts is the message, which is hardness. This was so at the beginning of the year, when Austria spoke about a frightening accumulation of women's murders. Immediately, the government announced brief harsher punishment for violent offenders. Well, just before the new election, put ÖVP and FPÖ their plan. Next Wednesday, four days before the ballot, Parliament votes on the so-called anti-violence package. The initiative of the former coalition party will probably be accepted thanks to a majority in the National Council. Once again, the signal that the two parties send their constituents to the polls is: We know no mercy.

At the same time, the People's Party and the Freedom Party are proving twice indifferent: here, in contrast to the customs of parliamentary democracy, there, in the face of the harsh criticism of victims' advocates and lawyers in the amendment to the law.

25 laws are affected by the changes. These include recognized measures, such as compulsory perpetrator counseling in the case of domestic violence or the re-establishment of case conferences in the case of high-risk cases between public authorities and intervention agencies. The core of the package, however, the many, sometimes drastic tightening of punishment in violent and sexual offenses, called Robert Kert, professor of criminal law at the WU Vienna, “pure populism”. So should the minimum penalty for rape be raised to two years, a conditional sentence is excluded, the maximum penalty for repatriation offenders is extended to 20 years imprisonment.

The catch: “Higher punishments in these areas have no influence on whether an act is committed,” says Kert. Unlike white-collar criminals, who may be calculating the consequences of a crime, potential perpetrators of violence often care little about what threatens them, often from the victims' personal environment. “A preventive effect may not be expected from higher penalties,” says Kert.

This applies all the more to the 18 to 20-year-olds, called in the legal jargon young adults: Also for them is a significantly increased sentence in the coming. “We know that prolonged penalties make rehabilitation much more difficult at this difficult stage of development,” warns Kert.

Although was in Austria The penalty for sexual and violent crimes has been increased several times, most recently in 2015. The actual problem has changed little. Especially with sexual violence is rarely reported, and only 14 percent of the rape charges end with a conviction. However, to change that, it would need money-making measures, such as training for judicial and police personnel or more money for litigation.

The new violent protection package was born at the beginning of the year in the so-called Task Force Criminal Law – not in the Ministry of Justice, but under the leadership of turquoise hardliner Karoline Edtstadler, at that time State Secretary, now an MEP. However, the ministerial draft published in May had little to do with the recommendations of the working group. The 60 appraisals submitted in the episode were almost consistently critical to devastating.



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