Swiss youth sentences – ten days of social work for murder

Swiss youth sentences – ten days of social work for murder
The Swiss Federal Court in Lausanne on Lake Geneva

If a ten-year-old child shoplifts in Switzerland, he or she is committing a criminal offense. In the neighboring country, the age of criminal responsibility is only ten years – but in extreme cases, prison sentences can only be imposed from the person’s 15th birthday onwards. These are comparatively low: While 15-year-olds in Austria can be punished with a prison sentence of up to ten years, in Switzerland it can last a maximum of one year. “The penalties are rather low because with such young perpetrators the first thing to do is to examine protective measures,” says the President of the Swiss Association for Juvenile Justice, Patrik Killer.

The Swiss model is geared towards educational and therapeutic measures. “A 13-year-old could commit murder here, and the maximum punishment is ten days of community service,” says Killer. The focus is on protective measures, such as accommodation in an open or closed ward. There the young person is under observation by social educators, psychiatrists and psychologists. “Then the action plan is determined,” says the expert.

  • Also read: Edtstadler on criminal children: “Consequences necessary for serious crimes”

The catalog of penalties for under-15s in Switzerland only provides for two possible sanctions: a reprimand (“a kind of yellow card”) as a milder means, and a “personal performance” of up to ten days as a more severe consequence. For those over 15, the maximum period is a maximum of three months.

In Switzerland there is a wide network of special facilities for young perpetrators, which is also expensive. Criminal law based on this model only works “with the appropriate infrastructure,” says Killer. With regard to the current debate in Austria, he warned in an interview with the Austria Press Agency against “comparing apples with pears”.

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Source: Nachrichten

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