Wednesday, October 20

When the state is a torpedo, society goes into the red

Bad finances are a major obstacle to a successful return, writes Kristine Petersen. She works as a prison officer, but writes as a private person.

In practice, we have a system that in some cases provides a life sentence.

This is a chronicle. Opinions in the text are the responsibility of the writer.

Imagine being released after ten years in prison. Your debt has nearly doubled while you were in debt. When the door opens and you are free, the torpedo awaits you.

In court, he was ordered to pay compensation of four million crowns to the victims of the case. You were very young when you were convicted and you had no courage to pay compensation.

While you are zoning, your debt increases by about 26,000 crowns a month. When he is released, he will have to pay more than seven million crowns to the Central Government Collection Agency. The debt has thus increased from four to seven million.

This is a common problem in Norwegian prisons.

Difficult to motivate

If you have to pay compensation to victims of violence, the default interest on recourse claims is currently 8 percent. Therefore, it is much higher than in a normal mortgage.

Debt collection agencies often freeze claims while sitting inside. At the Norwegian Central Collection Agency, on the other hand, default interest is charged if you do not pay the claim by the due date, that is, 30 days after receiving it.

The demand will only grow and grow. At the same time, the prison service must work to motivate prisoners to work and education, so that they can be released as good contributors to society.

Some are condemned to pay very high compensation, sometimes in the millions. Compensation is paid to the victim from the Violence Victims Compensation Office. A claim for recourse is also submitted (refund claim) to the perpetrator.

The default interest rate of 8 percent does not benefit the victim. That money ends up in the treasury.

In prisons across the country, prison officials, teachers, and factory officials work to motivate inmates to education and work. It’s hard work when inmates live off minimum subsistence rates for the rest of their lives, because what is deducted from the salary deduction only covers part of the interest.

Take refuge in crime

Many inmates know well how to live a life alongside society and how to earn a lot of money without a regular job. It can be easy to turn to such a solution when it is difficult to make ends meet.

Having a good overview of your finances and the opportunity to pay off debt and incidental expenses is a crucial factor in post-release management. Bad finances are a major obstacle to a successful return and can strike a chord during any other endeavor.

We know this about inmate finances:

  • A large proportion, around 55 percent, struggling with the economy even before insertion.
  • Few inmates own their own home, only 13 percent have a mortgage.
  • Prisoners generally score lower in living conditions surveys than the rest of the population.
  • 48 percent of the prisoners have been sentenced to compensation or fines.
  • Bad finances and mental illness are known to They are connected and they are mutually reinforcing.

Economic life sentence

We like to think that we have a humane penal system here in Norway, with a focus on rehabilitation and that you have made up for it when you have served your sentence. In practice, we have a system that in some cases provides a life sentence. A punishment that prisoners only perceive when they are released.

For those with debt claims, it is difficult to be granted a debt settlement. That is because such a scheme should not seems offensive. Often times, they don’t get debt settlement at all. So they have to live with the demands for the rest of their lives.

Access to deferral or reduction is so narrow that in my almost ten years as a correctional officer I have only heard of one case that caused it.

Short-lived joy

I the proposal The new law on damages was proposed to eliminate default interest. It was to the delight of those who will pay the lawsuits, but also of us who work in prisons. It would then be much easier to motivate prisoners to go to work regularly once they are released.

But the allergy was short.

Once the responses to the query have been analyzed, it appears that the proposal has been modified to eliminate the interest rate for late payment. In a proposal for a new state compensation law for victims of violence, which was presented on September 17, the state will continue to demand default interest on claims.

But it’s time to treat yourself, as they say in Bergen! The law has not passed in the Storting. It is still time to write about the proposal.

For inmates without the prospect of paying off a debt, it is easier to obtain benefits, earn money illegally, and / or continue the crime. A normal job will not be able to meet the requirements.

So the state as a torpedo has achieved the opposite of what is the purpose of the punishment.

The writer works as a prison officer, but writes this article as a private person.

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