Magazine article European Social Policy

Justice and Home Affairs / Suspended Sentences : Eu27 Left with Wide Room for Manoeuvre after Council Deal

Magazine article European Social Policy

Justice and Home Affairs / Suspended Sentences : Eu27 Left with Wide Room for Manoeuvre after Council Deal

Article excerpt

Member states have reached agreement on the key elements of new EU legislation designed to make it easier for people who have been convicted of a crime in one member state to be transferred back to the EU country where they normally live.

The agreement, reached at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 7 December, concerns a proposed Council Framework Decision on the 'recognition and supervision of suspended sentences, alternative sanctions and conditional sentences'. It covers situations where people have been convicted of a crime, but have been given a punishment which does not involve a custodial sentence ( i.e. alternative sanctions such as community service). It also covers cases where a person has served part of a prison sentence but has been granted early, conditional, release.

The central principle of the legislation is that the member state where the crime took place, and which sentenced the person, should be able to request that they be taken back by the EU country where they are normally resident. That receiving country would then be expected to oversee the application of the alternative sanctions which were handed down by the court.

The agreement reached by ministers sets out a list of the types of 'alternative sanctions' for which this principle should apply. In addition to community service they include, among others, an obligation to avoid contact with specific persons and an obligation to undergo treatment for drug addition.

It should be stressed, however, that the obligations placed on member states by the legislation are not particularly strong. …

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