Welcome back, readers!
It’s a new year and time for some new thoughts on what it means to be Truly Swedish. I visited the US during Christmas and the differences between our two cultures stood out even more while I was there. I love seeing these differences and analyzing them. The trick is learning what those differences are, how to adjust to them, and when to just “let it be” so you can stay sane. 🙂
I went to lunch with a bunch of colleagues yesterday and while we were walking there, we started talking about criminals and the criminal justice system in Sweden. I don’t remember how the topic came up, but it was certainly an inspiring walk to lunch.
Ever since moving here, I’ve heard from people – both Swedes and non-Swedes – that the criminal justice system in Sweden is a “joke.” Surely not, I thought to myself. How can a strong democracy like Sweden have a weak criminal justice system? A society with a strong executive and legislative branch must have a strong judicial system to ensure that no one violates the principles upon which the society is founded. And yet, time and time again, you read about these ridiculous stories where criminals are essentially given a slap on the wrist for what I consider to be a serious crime. The punishment often does not fit the crime. If you’re going to commit a crime, move to Sweden.
Then there are the ridiculous claims the courts make. I just read a story about famous footballer Magnus Hedman. Hedman was accused of purchasing sex – a crime in Sweden – because the women he was with were scantily clad and spoke English with a heavy accent. Seriously – they were accused of being prostitutes on those two facts. Here is a link to a well-written editorial about this.
I don’t have any more stories off the top of my head – maybe my dear readers will submit some via the comments? – but I did want to raise one question – why is it so easy to get out of prison, but so hard to get in?
As we walked to lunch, it popped in my head that perhaps that the Swedish society is so fixated on the concept of equality that they are afraid to “mistreat” the criminals too much. Just like the Swedes don’t like to stick out when they perform well, maybe it’s the same with the other side of the spectrum. If someone was thrown in jail for 25 years to life, well, that person is essentially getting special treatment (of the negative type).
Is that the reason? I can’t think of any other reason why you would not want to keep a murderer or a sexual predator off the street.