Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Greek Justice

The headline on last Thursday's Kathimerini read Furlough Rules More Stringent. I had seen these headlines before and didn't bother to read the latest outrage until this morning.

Greek criminal justice is probably the area of the greatest culture shock for me.
  • People can pay a heftier fine in lieu of actually serving their prison sentence.
  • Soccer hooligans have these vicious fights that leave people injured (sometimes severely), but they have their sentences suspended. This has recently been reformed so that they have to actually serve some time.
  • Police and prison guards are not allowed to shoot people unless their lives are endangered (this is one rule I'd like to take back to the US).
  • The bribery and corruption of judges and prosecutors seems to just go on and on. The latest set of trials has lasted nearly two years, it seems.
  • Because of the actions of The Colonels, also known as the Greek Junta (the military dictatorship that ran Greece from 1967 to 1974) and their brutal suppression of a student demonstration at the Polytechnic University on November 17, 1973 - Greek universities are sanctuaries and the police have to be invited to enter. Well that means that they are never invited to enter and young Greek anarchists take full advantage of this fact.
Prisoners are routinely let out of prison on furlough and are expected to return to their cells at the end of their vacation (furlough). Most do, but many don't. Some of those furloughed have been convicted of violent crimes, like murder.

This particular prisoner was "a repeat child rapist on the run since 1999. He was serving a 25 year sentence for sexually abusing a minor in 1994 when he disappeared on leave. He had been previously sentenced to another two years for a similar crime in 1989..."

All I can say is WTF?

The article goes on to say that they're going to clamp down on vacations (furloughs) for repeat offenders. But what about violent crimes in general? I understand compassion - hell, I'm an admitted "bleeding heart liberal," but this is nonsensical. If better prisions are needed or the prisons are overcrowded and this furlough serves as a stress release, there must be a better way.

I'm waiting for the day when I'll read that the whole furlough concept has been reformed so that repeat and violent and/or sexual predators have lost their right to a vacation from their prison sentence. I'm sure the victims of these people are also waiting.

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