Political push to restrict early parole

Broad political backing for limiting the number of offenders who are granted early parole, especially those convicted of violent crimes

Politicians across the spectrum are demanding that fewer inmates should be released on early parole and that individuals convicted of violent crimes should serve at least two-thirds of their sentences.

The move arrives after the victim of an attempted murder, 29-year-old Malene Duus, wrote an article for Politiken newspaper a fortnight ago that stirred up a heated debate in the national media. Duus asked whether it was fair that while she had yet to fully recover or receive any compensation for the attack – which left her as a partial invalid – the ex-boyfriend who assaulted her had been released from prison after serving less than half his sentence and was now working in a bakery owned by celebrity chef Claus Meyer.

Politicians are now lining up to demand stricter rules for the early release of prisoners, with the legal spokesperson for opposition party Venstre, Karsten Lauritzen, urging greater balance between the rights of an offender and the feelings of a victim when considering the offender for release.

“People should serve at least two-thirds of their sentence before they can be released on parole,” Lauritzen told the tabloid B.T. “We have to think about the victims and society needs to avenge on their behalf.”

Ole Hækkerup, legal spokesperson for the Socialdemokrater, supported Lauritzen’s statement.

”The prison service needs to take greater consideration of the feelings of the victim before giving people with long sentences for assault the opportunity to leave prison after only serving half their term,” Hækkerup told Politiken newspaper.

In 2004, the former Venstre-Konservative coalition government determined that prisoners who fulfilled certain criteria could be released earlier from prison. Since then, almost a thousand prisoners have been released before two-thirds of their sentences have been completed.

Politiken also revealed that Duus’s assailant, the 43-year-old Frenchman Frank Sakskik, hasn’t actually been released from prison on parole – his application for early parole was denied – but had received clearance to leave prison to work and was still otherwise serving his sentence.

“People who receive sentences of six years are often considered ready for work clearance outside the prison before they are ready for parole,” Bodil Philip, the governor of Ringe prison, told Politiken.

Lauritzen admitted to Politiken that he mistakenly thought Saksik had been paroled, but added that he still wanted to restrict the ability for prisoners to leave jail early under any program.

Liberal Alliance, Dansk Folkeparti and the Konservative also support tightening parole guidelines.