No mercy for Berlin’s Knackis

By Isabel Pancake

Those who are in prison have a good chance of getting out before the end of their sentence… Just not in Berlin: Here, convicts usually have to serve out their sentences!

This emerges from the response of the Senate Department for Justice to a small question from Sebastian Schlüsselburg (39, left).

Why are prisoners released early? So that they can be better resocialized and reintegrated more easily into society. They are either released halfway through their sentence or, more commonly, after two thirds.

Prerequisite: reasonable living conditions, good behavior and no other danger posed by the prisoner.

However, a comparison of countries shows that in Berlin only a few inmates are released earlier (see table below). Last year, 271 prisoners were released after serving two-thirds of their sentence. In 2017 there were still 275. Only Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt released fewer early. But: In 2017, the capital was still in last place in the ranking!

Inmates in Bremen have the best chance of being arrested quickly. Brandenburg is in the midfield: seventh place.

Schlüsselburg criticizes the current system of early release from prison, saying to the BZ: “Germany should fundamentally reconsider its special path here: Austria, Belgium, Sweden and Finland have had good experiences with the automatic two-thirds release except in justified exceptional cases.”

The Senate Department for Justice therefore wants to offer further training for prison officers, but also support the prisoners so that they can apply for release. But the Judiciary Senate now also wants to evaluate case law on early dismissals.

There are currently 653 places available in the Plötzensee prison in Berlin

There are currently 653 places available in the Plötzensee prison in Berlin Photo: Olaf Selchow

In other words: “All in all, these measures should help to increase the rate of early release if the prisoners are suitable,” according to the Senate. However, the decision as to whether a prisoner is allowed to leave earlier still lies with the court…