På obestämd tid - En studie av livstidsstraffet i svensk rätt ur ett straffideologiskt perspektiv
Sammanfattning: In 2014 the sentencing range for murder was changed in order to increase the use of life sentence for murder. Thus the legitimacy of life imprisonment has become an even more relevant question than before the amendment. The aim of this paper is to examine the life imprisonment in Swedish law through a critical point of view. More specifically the main question for this essay is which are the arguments for the life sentence, and which arguments can be held against it? In order to answer this question, the life sentence is examined in relation to some of the most common theories of criminal justice. In chapter 1 it is explained how the life sentence is fixed in the Swedish penal system. The life sentence is the most severe sanction in Swedish law and has been used in practice mostly for cases of murder, in which there are aggravating circumstances. Even if the life sentence theoretically intends to be a life-lasting sentence, the life imprisonment is often converted into a fixed term imprisonment by the Swedish Government, or by the law (2006:45) on conversion of imprisonment for life (”omvandlingslagen”). In chapter 2-5 the life sentence is examined in relation to the following theories: a theory which focuses mainly on the blame of the offender, a theory in which the function of the penalty is to prevent people from committing crimes, a theory in which the penalty should reflect how severe people in general wants the sanctions to be, and a theory which emphasizes the importance of humanity. The conclusion (chapter 7) is that there is no evidence that a severe punishment, as the life sentence, has an impact of the criminal rate, more specifically the cases of murder. There is also held that people serving life sentences find it stressful not to know when they are being released from prison. Hence, it is difficult to combine the life sentence with a theory based on the principle of humanity. Furthermore, it is difficult to argue that the life sentence is reflecting the degree of seriousness of an offender`s criminal conduct. Finally, it can be questioned whether the life sentence has a symbolic value, which a fixed-term penalty has not.
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