Inability of society to control criminals causes anxiety
09 May 2018, 02:37 ( 11 days ago)
Police confirmed on Tuesday to have locked up a "serial strangler", but public discussion has focused on the difficulties Finland has in dealing with potentially dangerous people when they are out of prison.
The suspect was released last October after a low court had not found enough proof for the charges about his planning to strangle a 17-year-old. An appeal was made, but he was able to wait on free foot for the appeals court verdict.
People in his neighborhood publicly demanded that that he should be detained, but Finnish laws maintain that a person cannot be arrested again on the same suspicion, and new proof has to be given.
There was no legal way for the police to apprehend him until he was suspected of another murder in April this year. The police detained him over the weekend.
The man has a long criminal record of several killings and other violent crimes, local media has reported. Due to his extensive criminal record, Finnish media is not inhibited in publishing his name and picture. All his victims were women including a 12-year-old girl. He also killed his mother.
During the period that he lived in his suburban apartment waiting for the higher court decision earlier this year, the local awareness of the fact caused anxiety in the neighborhood. There were rumors he had been seen in the vicinity of schools, but the police dismissed the claims.
Names were collected even in social media to back the demands that the man should be detained, but there was no fast legal way until he was now apprehended on murder suspicion.
The lack of tools in preventing imminent violent behavior in Finland dates back to a reform of the prison system last decade.
Earlier, Finnish laws made it possible to keep dangerous criminal incarcerated until further notice, even after they had done their prison terms. As the option was withdrawn, the idea was that mental health services would take over and such persons need to be treated.
Terttu Utriainen, a former professor of criminal law at University of Lapland, said on Tuesday that, in reality, many of those people have fallen between the prison system and the health sector. "They do not meet the diagnostic qualifications of being 'mentally ill'."
Interviewed on national broadcaster Yle, Utriainen raised the question whether "life imprisonment" should be made longer. Currently in Finland, a life sentence convict is set free after 12 years in prison. She said one option would be that a multiple killer would get a longer "life sentence".