90. årgang, 2003

Marts 2003 - 90. årgang Nr. 1

1. Gorm Toftegaard Nielsen, Asbjørn Strandbakken & Per Ole Träskman:
Criminal Responsibility of Legal and Collective Entities in the Scandinavian Countries: A Case Study.

An employee at a factory producing aluminium trays injures his hand while - against safety regulations - he is trying to remove a tray causing machine problems while the machine is still running. The question is whether this incident should be regarded as a violation of the Health and Safety at Work Act and, if so, whether the company can be convicted. According to Danish law, the incident is clearly punishable and the company can be convicted. According to Norwegian law, however, the company cannot been punished since the employee has acted in defiance of the instructions given by the company. In such a situation, it is difficult to conclude that the act has been done on behalf of the company. The outcome in Sweden and Finland will also be different from that in Denmark. Swedish and Finnish law contain no provisions by which the employee could be responsible for a crime when he has injured himself accidentally. Criminal responsibility for moral persons is unknown in Swedish law. Finnish law introduced criminal responsibility for moral persons in some cases in 1995, but not for offences against the Health and Safety at Work Act.

2. Iver Mysterud & Dag Viljen Poleszynski:
Violence, Evolution and Novel Environmental Factors.

We are far from a unified model to explain the phenomenon of violence. A focus on evolution, however, could unify research emphasizing psychosocial factors and genetic/biochemical/physiological variables as explanations for violence. Even if evolutionary psychology has great potential for improving the understanding of human behaviour, it is still hampered by weaknesses. Several novel environmental factors may compromise the design which has been useful for human survival and reproduction in the past, and which has been inherited from our ancestors. Intake of nutrient deficient foods giving rise to reactive hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), the existence of food allergy/intolerance, and the widespread exposure to novel toxins (heavy metals, synthetics) may contribute to violent behaviour.

3. Peter Scharff Smith:
Isolation and insanity - Vridsløselille Penitentiary 1859-1873.

Influenced by the breakthrough of the modern penitentiary in America, a thorough reform of the Danish prison system was decided upon in 1842. Two modern penitentiaries were thus planned and constructed, one based on the so-called Auburn model and the other on the Pennsylvania model. The latter, Vridsløselille, operated as a panopticon facility where constant observation and total isolation were the orders of the day. Even the prison's church and schoolrooms were constructed panoptically, with small wooden boxes within which each prisoner was isolated.
This article demonstrates how this dramatic regime of total isolation influenced the prisoners. An analysis of Vridsløselille's archive from 1859-1873 suggests that inmates suffered a wide variety of symptoms caused by their isolation, from physical hardships like weight loss, to severe psychological problems such as hallucinations, depression and paranoia. Several inmates developed regular insanity.
By 1867, the problems were so obvious that Vridsløselille's director published a book severely criticising the practise of total isolation. In the political process that followed, it was decided to switch to the so-called progressive system in the Danish prisons. This, however, had no influence on the regime of isolation. In fact, Vridsløselille penitentiary continued to use total isolation until the 1930s - long after its practice had been abandoned in most other countries.

Juni 2003 - 90. årgang Nr. 2

1. Heini Kainulainen:
Withdrawal of Charges in the Finnish Penal System.

Finnish provisions concerning the withdrawal of charges were reformed in 1991. The provisions in question give the police, the prosecutor and the judge the power to waive further investigation and/or prosecution of cases under specific circumstances defined by law. The reform expanded, in particular, the powers of the prosecutor, and sought to encourage prosecutors to drop prosecutions more frequently. The new provisions allow the waiving of prosecution on four grounds: the pettiness of the offence, the youth of the offender, the unreasonable (or inappropriate) nature of the sanction, and the presence of multiple offences (then called "a joint punishment"). In addition to these general provisions, there are also several special provisions, for example, in regard to assaults and drug offences. This article examines how police, prosecutors and judges have applied the provisions in question, and raises some topical discussions of these issues.

2. Peter Garde:
Reforms of the Danish Jury System.

This article was delivered as the keynote speech at the latest annual meeting of the Danish Criminalists'Association, where its presentation was followed by a brisk debate. The author reviews suggested reforms of the Danish jury system - today largely constructed on lines corresponding to the Anglo-Saxon system. The proposed reforms encompass deliberation in a common gremium, which allows for, but does not require, the cooperation of court and jury for the whole case and the introduction of an appeal on facts. Such cases would proceed either with a jury in both instances or with a mixed court followed by appeal to a court with jury, the latter preferred by the author. Juries are currently excluded in cases concerning white-collar crime. The author proposes that juries also be excluded in drug cases, and that mixed cases - involving counts for which juries generally are and are not included - be reformed.

3. Helgi Gunnlaugsson og Rannveig Òrisdóttir:
Mass Media and Fear of Crime in Reykjavik: Changes in Perceived Safety During 2001.

This article examines perceptions of safety in the downtown area of Reykjavik based on two public surveys conducted during the summer and fall of 2001. The sense of safety reported by respondents increased markedly over this time. In the summer, less than one-third of the respondents felt "rather" or "very safe" while walking alone late at night in the downtown area. Yet by the fall, the percentage of respondents reporting low fear levels had increased to more than forty percent. To help shed light on this change, press reports on the downtown area were analysed during these two time periods. Based on a content analysis of news headlines in the largest local daily, it appears that reports in the fall were much more positive than in the summer. While there may be other explanations for the change in perceived safety, we argue that the focus of the mass media may, at least in some cases, influence the public's perception of crime.

4. Magnus Hörnqvist:
Incarcerated Drug Addicts’Views on Incarceration.

The imprisonment of drug addicts is part of the official policy on drugs in Sweden, as in many other countries. This article questions the rationality of this policy, based on reports from imprisoned drug addicts themselves. Interviews conducted with 166 drug-addicted inmates indicate that very few believe that the prison offers the necessary resources for the rehabilitation of their drug habits. In this situation, the use of force is counterproductive. The findings imply a need to rethink the present Swedish policy concerning the routine imprisonment of drug addicts.

September 2003 - 90. årgang Nr. 3

1. Anker Brnk Lund:
Criminality in Danish Mass Media.

Content analyses covering one week of output from nine television stations and nine newspapers in Denmark show marked discrepancies between mass mediated crime and felonies registered by the police. Television primarily overemphasises murder, armed robberies and other types of violent crimes. Newspapers focus markedly on forgery, fraud, rape and other sexual offences. Misdemeanours are reported by local press only.
All in all 1.210 crimes were detected in the television channels analysed. Disregarding sports, weather reports and trailers this amounts to one or more crimes committed in 16 per cent of the tv-programmes. Only five per cent of the news items, however, included reference to criminal acts, and most crime fiction was televised before or after prime time indicating relative lower priority in Danish media compared to British and American crime coverage.
The newspaper sample included national broadsheets, popular tabloids and local papers. 1.230 crimes were detected, i.e. criminal acts occur in 14 percent of articles published during the week analysed. With the exception of one tabloid, the newspapers reported most of these incidents in small announcements indicating relative low editorial priority.
Our conclusion is that current media criticism misses crucial points by excessive concern for moral panics and spectacular hype rather than routine news coverage and crime as entertainment. Detailed analyses of dominant media prototypes, i.e. stories on injustice, self-help, risk and curiosities, should qualify current debates on mass mediated delinquency - including trends towards mixing facts and fiction in so called reality shows. This effort calls for closer co-operation between criminologists and mass media researchers.

2. Hans von Hofer:
Crime and Punishment in Scandinavia. An Overview.

This short overview of available statistical data on crime and penal systems in Scandinavia indicates that the level of traditional forms of crime in Scandinavia is on par with or lower than that found in many other European countries. The extent of drug abuse also appears to lie either at or below the European average. As elsewhere in Western Europe, Scandinavia experienced a substantial increase in crime rates during the post-war period - indicating that these recorded increases may have common structural roots. The 1990s witnessed a stabilization of theft rates, albeit on a high level. Increasing equality between women and men may have contributed to an increase in the reporting of violent and sexual offences against women (and children), making these offences more visible. The system of formal control in the Scandinavian countries is characterised by relatively low police density, a falling clear-up rate, the imposition of fines in a high proportion of criminal cases, and relatively low prison populations. The paper finishes with a summary of basic similarities in regard to crime policies within the Scandinavian countries.

3. Knut Papendorf:
Handing Out Needles in Prisons: Experiences from especially Germany.

This article discusses projects, especially in German prisons, where the prisoners have been given access to clean syringes. The projects have all been evaluated. In all of these projects the exchange of syringes was designed to go almost unnoticed by the prison staff. Exchanges took place in two different ways, either through automatons placed where the staff could not see them, or through dissemination by people working for the Drug Prevention Advisory Service. The evaluations show that such projects depend on the acceptance of both prison staff and politicians. They also show that exchanging syringes is quite feasible even in prison. There were no problems in connection with the actual exchanges or with prisoners possessing syringes. The risk of being infected with HIV or hepatitis was reduced, and there were no new infections during the period of evaluation.