Sweden Most Effective at Governing & Law – I Think Not

15 Oct
2010

It is that time of the year of the again when international bodies release data about the #1 country for gender equality or cleanest place to live or best place for dogs.

Now, the World Justice Project’s 2010 Rule of Law Index ranks Sweden as number 1 in five of the nine categories. These are: government accountability, absence of corruption, clear and stable laws, open government, and regulatory enforcement.

I am well aware that Sweden is one of the best countries to live. It is the land of Volvo, Ikea and Swedish waffles. But while I have been happiest here, I today, find certain aspects of Swedish life hard to digest.

  • Sweden is safe. No, violent crimes, rape, and petty theft are rising fastest in Sweden.
  • Regulatory enforcement – ie. the Swedish government works. Oh the Swedish government works so well that the average murder sentence is 7 years. If you are lucky can train to be a doctor while in prison (no Swedish papers covered this), get only 1 year for murdering a friend, or never be arrested for beating an innocent person with a gun. That’s right folks, rule of law works!
  • Government accountability – Sweden is friendly to immigrants and it’s easy to assimilate. Well, Sveriges Demokraterna has unearthed the skeletons from the Swedish cupboards.
  • Absence of CorruptionRenting an apartment is corrupt free. Because the government turns its eye away from the rental market system it keeps its hands clean. That’s right, text message bidding and vying for black market secondhand rental contracts is corrupt free.
    Oh, did I mention a real estate agent represents BOTH the seller and the buyer?? And the Swedish government was responsible for billions in renovation and building projects during the 1960-1980s? We all know that the real estate market and construction are the “cleanest” industries.
  • Clear and stable laws – Swedes have tough driver’s license exam therefore “they are better drivers.” The Swedish country aside, Stockholm has some of the worst drivers I have ever seen in a developed economy. Running red lights, making illegal turns, refusing to yield to pedestrians, overtaking police cars are some reasons why Stockholm drivers are rarely pulled over by traffic cops. Wait?! Where the hell are the traffic cops??
  • Open government – Systembolaget protects you from alcohol. The government does not want you drinking. The taxman also wants to make more money. Solution: sell evil alcohol with 200% tax rate and everyone wins! Create a governing board structure that is so complex that no one knows who runs this entity. As a good samaritan, when drinking is most prevalent (weekends, Midsommer, Christmas), pass out flyers and advertise on TV that drinking too much is bad.

I still brag that Sweden is a wonderful place to live; with caveats. My glass shattered back in Jan when my husband was beaten. That warm, fuzzy feeling of Swedish life disappeared. Justice and law failed us when we most desperately needed closure.

Sweden is not perfect, and my hope is that we strive for society becomes safer, more open, and easier to live in; not the other way around.

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15 Responses to Sweden Most Effective at Governing & Law – I Think Not

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Jessica

October 15th, 2010 at 19:12

Sapphire, I understand your frustration at the ineptitudes of a country where law enforcement is concerned. Especially hen you come from a country with a different way of doing things. The problem is that it is not just Sweden, it is a problem that the whole of Europe is facing at the moment. The law in Europe protects the criminals and makes the victims suffer. I think that in Holland, for murder, you could get away with a 6 month prison sentence – if you have no prior record and plead insanity. If they think there is a chance you will do it again, you get treatment but are still released asap. How are the police supposed to uphold the law when the law works against them? The criminals are better equipped than the police, so the police cannot deal with them, added to which, the policemen do not have the law backing them up. This is something that I admire about America, they have the law on their side and can therefore do their best when it comes to upholding the law.

I hope your boyfriend (or husband as he is now ;-)) is fully recovered from his ordeal in January.

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Erik

October 15th, 2010 at 23:06

Well I think this post is fascinating in many ways. You see, when you read statistics like that you should know that being no. 1 doesn’t mean it’s heaven on earth or land of perfect, it means that it’s better than the rest.

First of all, Sweden is safe compared to other countries. That doesn’t mean crime doesn’t happen here. And it’s probably on the rise, which is due to many different factors, mainly because of the population increase and the increase of poverty the developed countries are currently facing. Which means crime is rising everywhere, not just in Sweden. (Let’s compare with the US. If I’d go to let’s say a back alley in Detroit or downtown in LA, would I feel safe like I do in, uhm, Stockholm, or terrified? I think we both know the answer to that question.)

Secondly, as an American, you have really no say in what justice is and how it should be carried out. You still enforce the death penalty, jails are running at over capacity, you have one of the highest crime rates among developed countries. People are afraid of letting their kids play in the backyard and people live in fenced communities being scared of their fellow Americans.
And relatives of the victim are consulted when prisoner appeals for pardon (one might think they are a bit bias, but apparently an eye for an eye is still in affect in the US, just like we had here 200 years ago).

Plus, it is well proven that people that do get an education while in prison has far less tendencies falling back in crime than people that doesn’t get an education. But I guess we can do it like the US, lock them up, let them form gangs and then let them out so they can go on killing sprees. Unlike Jessica, I don’t admire your justice system. I think it’s more flawed than the Swedish one (which I can admit, has it’s flaws aswell). Oh right, and if I step on your lawn and you live in Texas, you got the right to shoot me of course! It makes total sense! And the punishment for murder in Sweden is 10-18 years or life imprisonment, just so you know. And I don’t know how it is in Holland, but if you plead insanity here you have to complete a psych eval and let the doctors decide. If you don’t pass you will get locked up. And it’s not that many that “passes” the test and gets marked as insane.

Third, depending on where you live in Sweden, assimilating i fairly easy. I have a lot of friends that are immigrants and they haven’t faced any problems looking for jobs or otherwise (everyone studies and got extrajobs). That being said, Stockholm is pretty open. If you go down to southern Sweden it’s different unfortunately. Just like if you go to let’s say, West Virginia in the US. My friend that is of arab decent got called a “damn Muslim” and “damn terrorist” numerous times when she lived there. And doesn’t the US consider itself as being pretty easy to assimilate in?

Fourth, yes the market for renting a secondhand apartment is pretty, uhm, corrupt if you so wanna. But I don’t see how sms-bidding is corrupt? And I don’t see why you think the entire Swedish housing market i corrupt? We have laws and regulations that are being followed fairly well I think to prevent any misuse of power the real estate agent might have. But as you said, the construction business is corrupt wherever you go, so it’s not really a surprise that it’s corrupt to a certain extent here in Sweden aswell.

And yes, when it comes to driving cars, people (mainly men) here in Stockholm drive like maniacs. But still we only got 4,3 deaths for every 100 000 inhabitants compared with 12,3 in the US. And you don’t got a fancy drivers licence. Maybe you should?

And Systembolaget, I totally agree with you! Please remove it! Let people decide by themselves if they wanna be drunks or not. Although the drinking culture here differs from many other countries since we are in the vodka-belt. They actually introduced Systembolaget cus people were drinking themselves to death back in the days. No idea what would happen if they removed it now.

I know I did alot of comparisons with the US, and I don’t know if you think the American justice system/situation is better or worse than the Swedish. The Swedish justice system is pretty similar to many justice systems in Europe though.

Congrats on your Wedding btw, fab picture!

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Jessica

October 16th, 2010 at 14:42

As I said in my post, the justice system in Sweden is not (that) different to any other in Europe. In Holland you also get evaluated by a shrink if you plead insanity, but big whoop! You still get released after 6 months. The father of my friend is president of the courts here where I live and he says that you can definitely get off a murder charge here if you act sorry for having done it. The law states that for murder you get 10-18 years for murder, but you also automatically get a quarter of the sentence off for good behaviour. You often hear in the news that people have been released from prison much earlier than was initially intended. People that were convicted for murder and received sentences of 12 years and only sat for three. It is ridiculous.There is also a statute if limitation on murder here in Holland – can you believe that?? I am willing to bet that it probably is the same in Sweden.

I totally agree with the death penalty. I always get lynched here in Europe if I say that – so I am awaiting your scream of outrage… As for shooting someone on your property – what the hell are they doing on your property?? I appreciate that your example is an exaggeration (I hope you were exaggerating, because it is not true) but you can sure as hell shoot an intruder in your house and I really do agree with that. I think that your problem is that you, like the rest of most of the Europeans that I know and have spoken to, keep thinking that everything is hunky dory here in Europe and everything should be like Europe. Well, that is just wrong. It is very difficult to think outside of the conventional box when you have lived in Europe all your life and just have one way of thinking instead of being objective for a minute and considering other peoples perspective. Erik, you have lived in Sweden all your life. I don’t presume to know you, but how can you say another country is wrong when you have only Sweden to compare it with? Knowing how something is in another country is not the same as living so long in a different country that you know very well how the situation is there.

As for comparing the amount of deaths in Sweden to America – you really forget that America is HUGE (as has been said to you in previous posts)!!! So obviously there are less deaths in Sweden by comparison.

What always makes me laugh (meant in a very sarcastic way), is that whenever election time rolls around in Holland all the political parties say that they will make sure there are more police on the street once they have been elected. People do not feel safe anymore here, but I wonder why we need more police? The police arrest criminals who walk out the front door of the police station before the police have even finished typing up the report. What good are police if the criminals are not punished by the law? If you have a stiff sentence it would serve as a better deterrent. Zero tolerance all the way!!

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Erik

October 17th, 2010 at 01:21

Your post makes me laugh some what (as you put it). WE think that everything should be like in Europe? Erm, I’d say YOU think it should be like it’s in the US. We are not the people that travel abroad and expect everything to be like home, I’m sorry. We’re not the people that expect every country to know English (and yes you do, I have seen it here in Sweden, I have seen it in France, I’ve seen it Spain and so on). Oh, and if someone doesn’t understand you in English, you just say it again, but really loud, and then they might understand you? And you’re the one complaining on the Europeans system, right? So apparently it’s you that wants it to be like the US, I’m just defending our ways.

And I took death per capita as a comparison, not total deaths in the country. And it still lives more than 500 000 000 in the EU, compared with 300 000 000 in the US, and the US still higher deaths per capita, so blaming it on size really doesn’t cut it.

And no, I haven’t lived in the US or outside of Europe, but why do I have to? (By the way, saying the “you haven’t lived outside so you don’t know” is really ridiculous, I can turn on CNN here and get the same news you get if I wanna.) I don’t need to see people killing each other in the streets to realize the justice system isn’t working. If you have one of the highest murder rates per capita in the developed world something is wrong, right? Or do you think they are just lying and it’s a good thing? Plus I do have friends that are Americans and have lived all their lives in the US, and when they tell me to never visit certain areas in LA cus you’ll get killed by gangbangers (that have, I’m sure, been in your type of jail like 10 times and still reverts back to crime), I take that as a “your justice system isn’t working”.

And there is no statue of limitation on murder here in Sweden, it has been removed.

The difference between the US and Europe is that the justice system here in meant to prevent crime and rehabilitate the criminals back so they can integrate with society again, whilst in the US it’s more to punish the wicked. And that is apparently not working, cus there will always be wicked people. And you still got one of the highest crime rates in the world.

And the death penalty I still don’t understand. Why have a punishment that’s solely driven by revenge? It doesn’t seam rational in a modern society. “You killed someone so I’ll kill you”. Still the “eye for an eye” mentality that I thought the modern world left behind many years ago. Isn’t that what makes us different from cavemen? Locking someone up for life is justice and punishment since you still show the mercy he/she didn’t show his/her victim/victims, killing someone is only revenge. I don’t scream in outrage over you view of the death penalty, I’m just somewhat perplexed.

Oh by the way, are you even American, I just assumed you were since you were defending them so fiercely?

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Juni

October 17th, 2010 at 03:02

Dear Sapphire
Thanks for writing your blog. I find it very informative and also provocative in a beneficial way. It’s great to be able to stir people to think and re-think about what they believe in and what they consider to be truth. I also think it takes courage to be a new resident and to openly question your current homes politics, beliefs and so forth- not sure I could do but I’m glad you do. When I first had the desire to go to Sweden I did some research on the internet and was surprised to find out that Sweden has the highest number of rapes than any other country in the EU. That floored me- because I always had the impression that Sweden is very safe and the more I researched the more I discovered that this is simply not so. Luckily my research paid off, I was able to be informed in a way that I believe helped me stay safe, not just walking around innocently believing it’s all just like home. I appreciate this post because it lays some things out in a clear way, things that still need looking at and consideration- just like any other country where evolution means continuing to address and re-address issues and ask over and over is that true? or perhaps ‘where do we go from here?’ I did see things that definitely needed to be looked at in my opinion, and I know from people who visit Vancouver, that there are MANY things here that need addressing too, things that most locals just turn a blind eye to- it’s so easy to do isn’t it? Another way to turn a blind eye is to become defensive and do the ‘well your place is just as bad thing’. I think it’s very helpful and beneficial to continually re-asses and aim for improvement regardless of the country. Overall I think Sweden is great. Obviously I must or I wouldn’t want to go back so badly :) But just like any other country I know it needs to keep working towards balance, because just like any other place, there are things constantly changing and potentially up-setting that balance. I think your being from the United States (I’m going to get picky here and make that distinction- people are always calling the U.S ‘America’ which is in fact a continent and NOT a single country) may give you a different perspective and possibly allows you some clarity that locals may not have. The same goes for people in Sweden being able to have clarity about the U.S and isn’t it true that if what we all want is to be the best we can be, that we would in fact welcome that feedback? Too bad that’s not what usually happens, it usually happens that people get defensive and it just because a circle of pointing out faults rather than having a little neutrality and being able to ask what is true, and what can we do to improve things that are less then ideal? There’s no harm in asking the questions- but there is in pretending everything is great when it’s not.

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Gavin

October 17th, 2010 at 12:29

Erik you either believe you live in (Swedish) Disneyland or your (Metro inspired) propaganda answers really had a grip on your mindset.

Think again. Nobody is attacking and nobody is defending Sweden by default, taking sides. The behaviour of saying “Vi är Bäst” and denying the existence of problems is exactly what brought some “people” to join the parliament-club recently. Focus more on what is not right in Sweden instead of pointing out where is worse than Sweden.
Because you leave in Sweden and not somewhere else.

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Jessica

October 17th, 2010 at 14:02

Gavin and Juni make very valid points – they have expressed their point in view in a succinct way and made points clear that I was trying to do.

I neither live in the States nor am I from the States. I do not even live in Sweden. As was said in a post that you and I were arguing about the last time, I am from South Africa but have been living in Holland for the past 16 years. I am ‘fiercely’ defending the States because this is something that I agree with the US on. I attack the States on some points, points that I do not agree with but I believe in giving credit where credits due. I have read a lot about the States because I do not agree with the attitude Europe has towards the States; hating America just because it is America. There are many good points about the states and as Juni pointed out (and me too) it is a huge country and no state is the same. As for fiercely defending them – I was not. I was merely agreeing with Sapphire and disagreeing with you. And in America, the law often varies from state to state. So there is nu use as saying American law is bad etc.

The reason why I suggested living some place else, is because it gives you a much bigger point of reference. If you stay in your own country it is very easy to say that it is better there than anywhere else because you do not know anything else and become blind to your own countries problems. Watching CNN is not the same as actually experiencing another country, this is what I meant by living some place else. It is good for personal growth. I would like to add that you should read a post properly before becoming so angry that you respond without having understood or at least thought about what was written.

The reason why there is a death penalty in the first place is to show the victim’s family that justice has been done, secondly to ensure that the victim’s family does not take the law into their own hands and thirdly to act as a deterrent. People start thinking twice before committing such a crime. Do no even presume to tell me that America is the only place that has multiple offenders roaming the streets. Holland is full of people that come out of prison and go back to committing crime, pedophile who are teachers that get put back in front of classrooms full of kiddies (in one case even out back into the flat where he was living and back next door to his victim. The owners of the flat refused to move pedophile saying that he had served his punishment so they were not going to do anything. The child in question was so traumatized that he couldn’t leave the flat).

But anyhoo, it is no use to continue conversations like this with people that refuse to acknowledge there are problems and prefer to live with their heads up their bums. On a final note, I am so pleased that there are people that think other than Erik. Gavin, at least I got the impression from your post that you are Swedish?

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Erik

October 17th, 2010 at 22:19

@ Everyone: I think you misunderstood me, I don’t deny problems existing in Sweden, I never have been.

I wrote “You see, when you read statistics like that you should know that being no. 1 doesn’t mean it’s heaven on earth or land of perfect, it means that it’s ”
better than the rest” in my first post.

Let me clarify if I haven’t been clear enough. Being “better than the rest” in this case doesn’t mean that we have the best food, the best music, the nicest people or the safest society in all category’s, it means that we are “better than the rest” in that specific category. I have not and will not deny that Sweden has problems. Like the rape for instance. Although that is very hard to compare between countries since all countries have different laws of what is considered rape. You can only put rape in statistics if you see to how many has REPORTED being raped, not the actual rape itself. So it might be that women in Sweden being more eager to report rape OR that our “rape laws” are “harsher” to deem what is rape and what is not OR it might actually be that more rapes or committed in Sweden, I have no idea. Do you Juni? And I apologize if I’ve offended any Canadians or Mexicans, I mean the US, not America as a whole of course.

And Jessica, I do not hate the States, I like the States, I think it’s a wonderful country in many aspects and I’ve been there many times. That doesn’t mean I have to like everything about it. And one thing I don’t like about it is the justice system, am I not allowed to voice that out loud without it being considered an “attack” as you put it? Isn’t Sapphire’s post an “attack” on the Swedish justice system then, or is it just a voice of opinion?

And I don’t understand in what way I misunderstood your posts? I didn’t even address you in the first post I wrote, I only said “unlike Jessica I don’t admire your justice system”, since you wrote you did, and then you addressed me in your post. The only thing I think I misunderstood was that you weren’t from the US, and I apologize for that. I think you however understood my post. I took the US as an example since Sapphire comes from the US, so she obviously compares to what she is used to. And no, I don’t have the same “view of the world” if you want to put it that way, as maybe you do, but I don’t need to go to Darfur or Afghanistan to know it’s not safe there, since the statistics speaks for themselves. I have no idea how the people in those two countries are though, they might be the nicest people on earth. Of course you cannot judge an entire country by statistics on criminality, but that was what I chose to focus on from this post, so that’s what I’m gonna talk about. But please, if you feel that I have misunderstood something else, then feel free to point it out.

(And with that comparison I don’t mean that the US is as unsafe as Afghanistan or Darfur is, but I would refer to statistics, just like Juni did, if I traveled to an area that are notorious for certain things. And she heard a lot of rapes are committed in Sweden, so she referred to statistics before travelling here.)

And Gavin, Sweden got many problems, if we wouldn’t have any, I wouldn’t go to the poll station in election times. I vote because I want change to the better and reduce the amount of problems Sweden has, not to keep it the way it is.

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Lovedoctor

October 17th, 2010 at 23:23

*stares admirably at Erik’s post*

Just had to write that :P Good comment!

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Sapphire

October 18th, 2010 at 12:55

Let me clarify myself.

I. In no way have I said the justice system is better in the US. However, I have come to understand that some countries are more lax at incarcerating convicted persons or convicting them in the first place. The average murder sentence in Sweden is 7 years, while it is not uncommon to receive commuted sentences of 1-3 years due to good behavior. The fact that another human life is valued at three years (based on your good behavior as a murdered) is disturbing.

It is the problem of lax sentencing that worries me. Also, this has nothing to do with rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is the ability to educate prisoners of their wrong doing, give them a second chance in society, and help them reenter society upon leaving prison. I agree with rehabilitation with conditions; rehabilitation with no strings attached is a dangerous path.

For example, a prison sentence of seven years of murdering someone in Sweden means, “if you behave well, you can be back on the streets in a few years. That person you murdered is not worth more than 3-7 years of your time” It’s no wonder people commit bizarre murders in Sweden; their jail time is likely to be shorter than time for a four year college degree.

An extreme point, but: why not kill someone in Sweden? This kind of attitude and thinking is worrisome in a once safer society.

II. I am personally opposed to the death penalty. I will not entertain reasons for/against it on this post.

III. I also find it appalling that: “as an American, you have really no say in what justice is and how it should be carried out. You still enforce the death penalty, jails are running at over capacity, you have one of the highest crime rates among developed countries.”

So because my country enforces the death penalty and we have crime, we have no right to voice our opinion of crime in other countries?

IV. Rape, petty theft, assault are higher in Sweden than in the United States. For whatever reasons, they are increasing, these statistics should send off alarm bells in law enforcement and the government.

Consider Erik’s statement about rape increasing in Sweden, “…it might be that women in Sweden being more eager to report rape OR that our “rape laws” are “harsher” to deem what is rape and what is not OR it might actually be that more rapes or committed in Sweden…” Valid points he makes, however:

The United Nations Report on Drugs and Crime ask that respondents have a consistent definition of rape. With that respect, Sweden still has a higher rape incidence than in the United States.

Let’s put away our prejudice that Sweden is a “safer” place than America. Let’s also discard the prejudice that because Sweden doesn’t impose the death penalty, it must be a better place too.

The real questions I poked at in this post has nothing to do with Sweden vs. United States. The real questions are about Sweden vs. Sweden. For those reading, stop using the excuse of comparing everything to America. I rarely make direct comparisons between the country, yet readers assume and state my “opinions” of America vs. Sweden.

We have these issues:
1. Crime is increasing across the board (violent crimes, rape, petty thefts).

2. Police are not well equipped to handle the increase in crime.

3. The government is not allocating millions more in crime prevention and security.

4. The government is failing to integrate foreigners. The average time it takes an immigrant to get a job is two years. And this is any crap job. For those who say all their immigrant friends “find jobs easily,” it is simply untrue. The exception to this rule are foreign professionals. And by definition, foreign professions only moved to Sweden because of work, otherwise they would not be here.

5. The government fails to crack down on corruption in industries. From my post: Why is SMS text bidding bad? Say you text bid on an apartment and eventually win the apartment. You paid 450,000 more than the pre-bidding start price (not unusual). You ask for a list of the other bidders and their amounts. Now, how do you know those bidders are real? How do you know these bidders are not friends of friends of the maklärare (real estate agents)? The point is, you can never verify these bids are real unless you go door to door knocking. Considering the time it takes to accept and close on a place is under two weeks, well…there is room for corruption.

6. People are given distorted sentences in comparison to the crime they committed. The men who tortured a rabbit (it is extremely disgusting and disturbing) received 3-6 months jail sentences. The boys who beat another boy’s head into the concrete on the street in Kungsholmen received reduced sentences of one to two years along with some “community service.” Where’s the logic? Let’s not discuss how torturing animals is an indication of serious psychopathic problems, it is. But, how does it make sense that seventeen year old boys, who clearly have an understanding of good/bad can receive such a low jail sentence for brutally murdering another boy?

7. Background checks in some sectors (teaching, medical, university admissions) are not permitted. Society has now tacitly given permission to convicted criminals (assault, murder, molestation, abuse, rape) to to look after others. Those people who believe in rehabilitation, do you really want your seven year daughter to be taught by a teacher who one stashed child porn? Do you also want a doctor who was convicted of murdering another human being?

Criminal felony charges are serious. While rehabilitation can mean these criminals will not be committing crimes again, it is still important that these people committed criminals. They are not innocent. Even if one is mentally insane, one needs psychiatric care for years to come; inside a secured facility. With criminal charges, comes the loss of certain privileges for an individual, e.g. voting (the most serious loss in a democratic society), prohibition from joining certain professions, limitations on leaving your jurisdiction, etc. However, this has not materialized. Criminals can do almost anything after leaving prison.

Now, here are the questions to everyone:

What does Sweden do when crime is increasing and the police don’t have the resources to catch criminals?

What does Sweden do when immigrants put a strain on social welfare because they are unable to get a job for years?

What does Sweden do when a medical institution accepts a convicted murdered and neo-Nazi sympathizer into medical program?

What does Sweden do when your friend is beaten with a gun in the middle of the city and the police take months to progress? And eventually close the case because there is no funding?

What does Sweden do when people murder and they received a commuted sentence of three years?

Folks, these are not easy questions. But this is reality of Sweden today.

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Erik

October 18th, 2010 at 15:31

@ Sapphire:

III: Yes, that was wrong of me to write and I apologize. Of course you have the right to voice your opinion.

And according to that rape report. You still have to base your facts on the amount of rapes being reported, not committed. So you still can not compare statistics, and UN still has to go on reported rapes and not committed rapes. And for instance, if you are being raped 4 times within an hour by the same person it’s classified and reported as 4 rapes, whilst in most countries, like the US or Denmark or Finland, it’s considered to be 1 rape. However, I know Sweden has a problem with rape and the police really need to figure out why that is and why it’s increasing.

And Sweden being safer than the US is obviously not a prejudice, otherwise you would have made it higher on the list. I don’t think they make a report like that solely based on prejudice. Why do people live in fenced communities? Why are people scared of letting there kids play in the backyard?

And I have no recollection of any bizarre murders in Sweden, or how you even classify bizarre. But those that have committed really serious crimes are serving long sentences. Like “Lasermannen”, he is currently serving life and have been in jail for 16 years now, and will probably be for at least 10 more, if he ever gets released. (The longest fix-termed sentence in Sweden is currently set to 46 years and that’s pretty long). But still, a lot of sentace don’t do the victims justice, I totally agree with you. And they are currently looking over the laws to make changes to the, erm, straffskala(?).

5. And about the text bidding, of course there is room for corruption, there is room for corruption everywhere. That’s why we have laws to prevent that. And if corruption in that sector had been crazy they would obviously removed the text-bidding function. I just read an article where they were selling foreclosed houses on auction in the US How do I know that those people sitting in the room with me are not employed by the auction firm? How do I know I’m not the only “real” buyer in that room? I don’t, I just have to take it on faith that the laws that are put in place are affective and are working. I cannot run a background check on every person on the room as much as I cannot run background checks on every person text-bidding.

6. Yes, I agree that some sentences are just weird. I think however in that case it was hard to prove that the kid that got the short sentence was actually the one causing “the most damage”, or however you put it. But still, 2 years isn’t enough, I totally agree.

7. “Background checks in some sectors (teaching, medical, university admissions) are not permitted. Society has now tacitly given permission to convicted criminals (assault, murder, molestation, abuse, rape) to to look after others”.

I’m pretty sure that no one in Swedish society has given their permission. You aren’t allowed to run background checks because you have been sentenced for a crime and have served you sentence, and then you’re free. The courts decide someones punishment, not the general public, otherwise you’ll never be “free” and your punishment will never be served. A watch list for pedophiles wont do any good, just scare the public and in worst case get someone seriously injured or killed. Then there is no reason for a pedophile (or other criminals) to rehabilitate if you know that you will be put on a list for the world to see. Another example is, if a person that has abused someone gets sentenced to prison, and then when he or she gets out no one will ever want to hire him/her. What will they do then? The only option he or she has is to revert back to crime. And that won’t be good for anyone and it will probably be more economical to lock them up for life or just kill them.

My firm belief is that it is the role of the courts and justice system to uphold the law and punish the wicked. If the general public starts to take the law into their own hands we will loose the right to call our country a developed society.

However, with that being said, Sweden might want to make it possible for certain instances to make classified (with emphasis on classified) material accessible, like when you employ someone to work with kids or at a hospital, like they do in the military.

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Jessica

October 18th, 2010 at 15:55

Erik, you were getting very personal saying that I couldn’t speak any other language except Englisha nd expected everyone to speak English to me. I have stated in other posts that I have learnt Dutch and speak it fluently. Other than that, enough German and Spanish to get by on holiday.

Why I reacted to Sapphires post in the first place is, again, this problem is the problem that Europe is facing and not just Sweden. It is exactly the same in Holland and I know in England that they have similar problems. The law is a laugh, no-one takes it seriously. As Sapphire points out (which is something I have been saying for years) that it is almost worth murdering someone here because the punishment you get for the crime is a laugh. Punishment should be a deterrent, to make sure no-one breaks the law.

And as for pedophiles not being screened – there is no way in hell that I would like my children to be taught by a pedophile. In Holland at the moment there has only ever been proof that pedophiles will do it again, but in true Dutch fashion they choose to ignore the problem and hope it will just go away.

Anyhoo – Sapphire, you have addressed very unsettling problems. They are a definite cause for concern and hopefully they will be dealt with. It is very worrying to think that people can get away with assaulting other people because the police do not have funds to deal with the crime – Sweden pays huge amounts of tax , how come the cops don’t get some for their funding??

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Sapphire

October 18th, 2010 at 16:29

@Erik – The list was in no particular order. ;)

Yes, Erik, it is a tacit permission that criminals are allowed to teach, become doctors, etc, if the law protects them. Since the law says background checks cannot be done then someone with a prior conviction has the right to take a job that puts them in a powerful position (doctor vs. patient, teacher vs. student).

What I find confusing is the obsession over criminals “paying dues in jail” but once they are out back in society, nothing can be passed against them.

If we have credit reports that influences all aspects of what we buy (i.e. houses), obtain (credit cards), and do (buy home insurance, etc) then why is wrong to prevent criminals from entering certain professions?

Since when have people decided risk management is unnecessary when it comes to criminals? Why is legal for banks to reject home loans to high risk people? Why is NOT legal for schools to do a background check to prevent pedophiles?

This is where Swedish governance fails. It is acceptable in corporate Sweden to risk manage financial portfolios, real estate holdings, mergers, acquisitions for the sake of decreasing risk and exposure. It is unacceptable in Swedish society to take accountability of criminals after they leave prison. They did “their time”; so why should society monitor them after?

It is not legal for society to refuse to hire pedophiles at schools, murderers at hospitals, or an animal torturer at an animal shelter. That is one of the core problems in this country: that criminals don’t commit crimes if fully rehabilitated.

I do not understand how asking for a background check is akin to “…if the general public starts to take the law into their own hands we will loose the right to call our country a developed society”

If an employer asked for your CV and references, would you give it to them? Isn’t the employer taking matters into their own hands by determining if you are qualified to be in the job? Would we be a backward society because someone made a decision based on your education/work history?

How is that any different from asking for a background check? A company would not want to hire a financial criminal if that person was being hired to run their accounting department. How does it make it right that someone who committed a crime can go BACK and do the exact same thing over without any hindrances?

Another point, “And that won’t be good for anyone and it will probably be more economical to lock them up for life or just kill them.”
You should know that putting someone on death row compared to life in prison costs millions of dollars. I’m not sure how it is economical to kill people from your statement.

I still do not have an answer from you whether you would want a doctor that previously murdered someone or your daughter to attend school in which the teacher has child porn collections. What are your thoughts?

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Erik Moberg

October 18th, 2010 at 18:44

@ Sapphire and Jessica:

Of course I wouldn’t want my kids to be educated by a pedophile, that’s why I wrote “However, with that being said, Sweden might want to make it possible for certain instances to make classified (with emphasis on classified) material accessible, like when you employ someone to work with kids or at a hospital, like they do in the military” in the end. By that I mean that the people responsible for employment in “sensitive areas” should be able to access those files, but not your average soccer mom to print out and put it on the local billboard.

But I don’t know if it’s correct to run background checks on a person if they work at the local supermarket or as cleaners or maybe as taxi-drivers or at the register at McDonald’s. And I don’t think it’s right to put them on a list for everyone to see. And you still didn’t answer my question, what will they do when they get out? Sure, deathrow is expensive, but welfare is even more so, and will last until that person dies (not by execution, but by old age).

What is the meaning to rehabilitate a person if they can’t adept back into society again? Then it’s just a waste of money. First you have to pay for their time in prison, then for their education and then for their welfare. Where’s the logic in that? Please, tell me. But as you said, and I totally agree with, a pedophile should not be allowed to work amongst kids. That would be like an alcoholic working at a bar.

And I really don’t understand what you mean with “that criminals don’t commit crimes if fully rehabilitated”. For me, that is a good thing. Or do you mean that it’s our mindset and we are naive? (Which is, to an extent, true). The point with rehabilitation is to teach them that, according to the laws that we have set for our society, it is wrong to commit a crime. And just letting people serve long penalties without rehabilitation is obviously not working either, since people still commit crime in the US (and yes, that was a comparison, but it was unavoidable).

And Jessica, by “you” I meant the US population, since I though you were American, a generalization I did which I’m very good at making and do it all the time. I bet you do the same when you speak to “Europeans” aswell. I probably would if I weren’t from Europe. If you thought of it as a personal attack and took offense, I apologize once again.

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Mal

November 7th, 2010 at 23:51

Sorry to comment on a slightly old blog post, but one of the issues with prison is the expense, many times more than the average salary of an well educated person (although depends on the country of course). With that in mind, it’s a good idea to minimise the time criminals are placed in prison, while spending a load of effort rehabilitating them – which, *if* done right means they go from costing the state a load of cash, to making the state money through income tax etc.

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