Thursday, May 01, 2008

Austria case revives European debate on light prison terms


Come on now. Cart/horse anyone?

I'm no barrister nor psychologist, but the first order of business it seems to me is to determine the mental health of Fritzl before there is any debate about how long he should be imprisoned.

Jesus H Christ in a mental ward, if he doesn't qualify as a mentally disturbed individual I don't know who does. Perhaps Jeffery Dahmer, but then he was imprisoned rather than given psychiatric help?

Its hard to contain the public when they're out for blood.
Police say Josef Fritzl left a lot of human wreckage in his wake: the daughter he imprisoned and raped for 24 years, the seven children he fathered with her and the wife whose life he shattered.

Yet, for an atrocity that has stunned the world, he may wind up serving just 15 years in prison if charged, tried and convicted.

Practically speaking, that may translate into a life sentence for Fritzl, 73. But his case has revived a debate over Europe's lenient penal system — and whether harsher, U.S.-style sentencing guidelines might help deter such heinous crimes.

"Fifteen years for destroying human lives is unacceptable," said Harald Vilimsky, a public safety policy official with Austria's conservative Freedom Party. "Any punishment that falls a single day short of a life sentence is a mockery of the victims."

Many Europeans abhor the death penalty, and capital punishment is illegal across the 27-nation EU. But in many countries, even convicted murderers handed life sentences seldom serve more than 25 years.

Note: Headline links to source.

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