Vesna Škare-Ožbolt (Vesna Skare-Ozbolt) a.k.a. Vesna “Let Them Walk Free”, Croatian justice minister, has announced that she would reconsider certain changes in Croatian criminal law. In other words, public outrage over ridiculously light prison sentences and dramatic deterioration of public safety might hurt her DC party at the upcoming local elections. So, she hinted at possibility that the prison sentences might get tougher in the new Criminal Code.
Proposed changes are also supposed to include life imprisonment – which was passed by Sabor in 2003 only to be struck down by
Škare-Ožbolt went on record as adamant opponent of life imprisonment. For her this punishment is “backward, un-Christian and un-European” and too cruel. She supports status quo in which the maximum penalty is “long-term imprisonment” – between 20 and 40 years – reserved for the worst kind of crimes and worst kind of offenders.
Life imprisonment is, however, very popular among people, so Škare-Ožbolt had to find ingenious way to reconcile her own stance with electoral necessities. She recently announced that, prior to any formal bill, she organise large conference of 1000 Croatian most notable legal experts – judges, law professors and attorneys – in order to see whether life imprisonment could be introduced to Croatian criminal law and whether such measure would have any beneficial effect.
This is one very clever move by Škare-Ožbolt. On one hand, she signals to the public that life imprisonment can be brought to Croatian law in some sort of foreseeable future. On the other hand, the very composition of the conference – where the majority will be made of attorneys, many of them overwhelmingly opposed to life imprisonment for whole sort of, mostly financial and business, reasons – guarantees that the consensus about life imprisonment won’t be reached and that Croatian criminal law will stay as it is.
Distant it may be, but the prospect of introduction of life imprisonment in
life imprisonment. He compared it with death penalty – which he had supported until being disgusted by its practical implementation in
This is the punishment which affects the criminal, regardless of what kind of monster he might be, from the first moment. I can’t back it up with any statistics, but I’m certain that eight out of ten such convicts, when released after such shock, would never again think about doing anything illegally.
Those gentle souls – who believe that people be reformed overnight while not believing in any kind of statistics – have, among many others, created atmosphere in which mediocrities like Škare-Ožbolt (Skare-Ozbolt) thrive and criminals walk free.