The normal punishment for murder becomes life imprisonment in Sweden

The normal punishment for murder becomes life imprisonment in Sweden
This week a report was handed over to the government, suggesting that life imprisonment should be a normal penalty for murder. Minister of Justice, Morgan Johansson, believes that the proposal, which can come into force next summer, is good, writes Ekot.

- I think the most severe crime should also give the most severe punishment. And in Swedish legislation it is life imprisonment, says Johansson to SR.

A majority in the Riksdag supports the proposal, except the Left Party, who finds that life imprisonment sentences are "out of date" and counteract the rehabilitation.

However, according to Morgan Johansson, there is an opportunity for the convicted to have the sentence transformed into a time-limited sentence if the person in question has realized his crime and has shown improvement. Therefore, a functional rehabilitation remains, he believes.

The government believes that a normal punishment of life imprisonment for murder, sends a clearer signal to the courts.

However, life imprisonment in Sweden is not what it sounds like.

Life imprisonment in Sweden is a sentence of indeterminate length. Swedish law states that the most severe punishment is "prison for 10 (18 in case of murder) years or life", and so life imprisonment is, in practice, never shorter than ten years. However, a prisoner may apply to the government for clemency, in practice having their life sentence commuted to a set number of years, which then follows standard Swedish parole regulations. Clemency can also be granted on humanitarian grounds; however, the number of granted clemencies per year has been low since 1991, usually no more than one or two.

Until 1991 few served more than 15 years, but since then the time spent in prison has increased, and in 2007 the usual time served was at least 21 years.

Also, offenders under the age of 21 when the crime was committed can not be sentenced to life imprisonment.

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