The main character of this story has been convicted of 45 crimes in 14 years and escaped deportation after two rapes.
Crime in Sweden has changed at a rate where legislation has not kept up. The focus must shift from what is best for the perpetrators and instead start from protecting the citizens, writes police Fredrik Marklund.
The Swedish model regarding crime and punishment basically means that criminals should be sentenced to prison as the last resort and includes, among other things, a quantity discount, a youth discount and conditional release after two thirds of the prison term. To make the problems with this model visible, I want to tell about a man I have chosen to call the repeat offender and whom I have met in my work as a police officer on several occasions.
The man came to Sweden in 2006 and was already convicted after a few months in the country for, among other things, violence and threats against an official, aggravated drunk driving and two cases of rape. For the ten crimes he committed, he was sentenced to three years in prison and life expulsion from Sweden.
The repeat offender was, in full accordance with the Swedish model, sat two of his sentenced three years in prison before he was released on parole in the autumn of 2008. The deportation was never carried out when the government chose to pardon him. Three days after his release, he again committed violence against an official and received another month in prison.
45 crimes – including another rape
The years passed and the man continued to commit crimes. He was convicted of, among other things for, aggravated assault, violent resistance, money laundering, drug offenses, unlawful threats, harassment and many cases of drunk driving and illegal driving. The repeat offender was convicted of 45 crimes during his first 14 years in the country, most often with probation, daily fines and sometimes shorter prison sentences as a result.
In 2014, he committed another rape. This time he was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison and this time was released after two thirds of the sentence had been served.
Sarneckis slack penalty scale
In Sweden, it has long been believed that long prison sentences are of no use. I believe that this image has in many ways been cemented due to a narrow media report in which the criminologist Jerzy Sarnecki had largely the exclusive right to speak on the issue. For many years, Sarnecki has trumpeted that there is no evidence that more severe punishments would reduce crime. And when Sarnecki stated this, the Swedish politicians have obviously listened and the legislation has been followed. Our protagonist’s criminal life in Sweden continues. At the time of writing, he is suspected of having spat a young girl in the face before he abused her and threatened her with death.
I mean, the math is so simple that it’s hard to take Sarnecki seriously. If the repeat offender had been in continued custody after the first two rapes, the third rape would never have taken place, nor would he have had the opportunity to commit the other crimes for which he was later convicted.
Citizens need to be protected
I believe that crime in Sweden has changed at a rate where the legislation has not kept up, and that we have a responsibility to protect citizens from people who are repeat offenders. Believe me, he is not alone in having a criminal register like this. I believe that the focus must shift from what is best for the perpetrator and instead start from providing reparation to victims of crime and preventing further victims of crime from being affected.
Denmark has taken action against gang crime and through resolute measures for seven years has succeeded in reducing the number of gang criminals by a third. This was noticed when young gang criminals from Sweden were sentenced to long prison terms in Denmark, when for a corresponding crime in Sweden they had received a fraction of this.
Like a bolt from the blue, Sarnecki has now also woken up and claims, completely unabashedly , that longer prison sentences for gang criminals would reduce crime. “There is no doubt that locking up the most violent individuals would reduce gang crime.”
Löfven does not understand
The message from Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, on the other hand, is ambiguous. Although he often expresses that the criminal gangs must be cracked down , he can at the next moment express his satisfaction that the country’s prisons are already fully occupied and that this is due to all the measures taken by his government. The fact that the country’s prisons are full, I interpret rather as that the serious crime has increased.
What Löfven and his responsible minister Morgan Johansson do not seem to realize is that these marginal changes in the law do not make a decisive difference. Significantly stronger measures are needed to reverse the trend.
Suspected of new crimes
Our main characters criminal life in Sweden continues. At the time of writing, he is suspected of having spat a young girl in the face before he abused her and threatened her with death. It remains to be seen whether this time Sweden will give the victim redress and prevent further victims of crime, or whether the man will get another chance for recovery.
I think I know the answer.
By Fredrik Marklund
Police in Stockholm