The story of a 14 year old boy, charged with several thefts, who, has succeeded to skip imprisonment because of his minor age. What do lawyers think about these functions of the system which are supposed to rehabilitate this category of minors exposed to negative phenomena? According to them the Probation Service has failed and for this reason is necessary the opening of a rehabilitation school for minors.
A considerable part of the defendants who end up being judged in Tirana’s District Court as thieves, are in a minor age. Frequently the punishment measures are different, only for those minors who have reached the age of 14 years. For the rest, of minors under age 14, none of the justice authorities can do anything. Under these conditions, the police, Prosecution and the Court expect these repeat crime minors to reach the age of majority as provided by law for their sentence, as it appears to be the only solution.. Probation Service is considered not functional in its purpose to rehabilitate minors, who are involved in the crime of theft, meanwhile, justice key players propose the reopening of rehabilitation school as the only possibility for the repeat crime minors. Judges are unsatisfied by the Probation Service calling it failed, while, adding that if the Probation Service would function properly, we would not have an increased number of minors, who are referred several times in the court.
The minor boy sentenced for theft, Erjon S.
In the meantime, the situation for this category of minors is eventually resolved by the court sentencing them with imprisonment, what happens to those numerous minors charged with theft? Judges, prosecutors and lawyers see the reopening of rehabilitation school as an effective solution, meanwhile, others do not consider it as a solution; rather see it as a school which refines the “profession” of theft. E.S got his first sentence by the court and is known for having a “rich career” in the field of theft, despite his small age,. He is charged for a large number of thefts, but the court sentenced him only, for the last one he committed when he reached the age of 14 years old. The minor was sentenced on condition by the court, while he is obligated to maintain contact every Monday of the month, with the Probation Service in order to keep him out from the street life.
This service does not convince the judges, who, try to give an opportunity to these young people. They see the Probation Service as a failure, although they are on alternative punishment and under the supervision of Probation Service these young people still continue to follow their activity of theft by not being controlled by anyone and turning this justice function into a worthless instrument. The failure of this justice institution appears to have impacted on repetitive criminal cases especially by repeat crime minors. One of the judges, Artan Gjermeni involved with minor’s cases states that the rehabilitation school would be a final solution.
“There are a number of reasons which affect the involvement of minors in the crime of theft, above all the economic and social reasons supersede. According to my experience of several years in juvenile justice, I ascertained that, the lack of financial support, often make the parents to push their children to theft, and their lack of support and leaving them adrift, has caused the involvement of these children in the crime life. But what should be done? Some people say that the court releases them, but as a matter of fact the court gives them a chance to be rehabilitated since the lawmakers aim is rehabilitation, not imprisonment punishment. But if they are crime repeaters based on law they are sentenced to prison. And still happens to come back to the court and being sentenced again”, states the judge Artan Gjermeni.
The judge Bujar Krasniqi
According to him, the Probation Service is a bureaucratic system of documents which does not make anything else about the supervision of these young people and their “punishment” in public, by forcing them to do work in the interest of the public..What happens here is that the person sentenced on condition has to appear at the office of the Probation Service specialist once a week and that’s it the document is completed. What was the aim of the decision, only this?!That’s why I believe that this system has failed. Secondly, there are many cases of minors under 14 years old, who have not reached the age and you can’t sentence them despite the large number of thefts that they might have committed. The reason is the lack of a rehabilitation school for this age, pretty much similar to the rehabilitation school that used to exist in the past. I think that would serve a lot”, concludes Gjermeni.
Another judge, involved in the case of Erjon.S is Judge Bujar Krasniqi. Also for him the solution would be the opening of a rehabilitation school.
”Regarding the sentences for minors, initially the first opportunity the t law provides for them, is sentencing them on condition, with the aim of rehabilitating them to attend school and to make them leave the crime life. When they repeat the same crime many times normally according to the law they are sentenced with imprisonment.. Regarding to the other age, that of minors under 14 years old, I think that a solution might be only the rehabilitation school”, states the judge Krasniqi.
The same opinion is also shared by the prosecutor Valentin Preci, who was asked for this problem by investigim.al. He expressed the opinion that the rehabilitation school would be a good solution for the minors who haven’t reached the age of 14 years old, while, for the repeat crime minors older than 14 years old, prison is the final solution.
The lawyer Saimir Visha
“The law is clear about the crime repeaters, even if they are in a minor age. After giving them a chance to change, the sentence with imprisonment is inevitable. Often happens that they keep repeating the same mistake and are sentenced again with imprisonment. The Probation Service fails to control these children. Regarding to, those under 14 years old, the best solution is only the rehabilitation school because if they are released they will keep committing other thefts” answered to our concern the prosecutor Preci.
Regarding the repeat of the criminal act and the inability of punishing minors under 14 years old, two lawyers Sajmir Vishaj and Alfred Duka specialized in minor cases, do not have similar opinions for the rehabilitation school, while, they both share the same opinion about the function of the Probation Service in rehabilitating minors in order to not repeat the crime again. Lawyer Vishaj says that the specialists of Probation Service often do not check the performance of these minors even though they repeat again the same crime.
“Look what happens when the court sentences the minor on condition, with the aim to not interrupt the learning process at school for him. The specialist is lazy to control the minor at school and asks him to come to the directorate office once a week. The child has quit school in that day and in contact with his friends can potentially re make mistakes. The court will sentence him for repeating the act and the minor ends up in jail. There are also other problems that make him repeat crime such as social circle, poverty and other social causes .For the other age group, that of under 14 years old, it is only the re-education school that solves the issue” says lawyer Sajmir Vishaj.
While his colleague, lawyer Afred Duka is against the re-education school, because that school would further damage their formation. “There are a number of causes that push a minor to steal, but also to commit again the same act. Also, when the adolescent is sentenced on condition, supervised by Probation Service, he has not been made an honor. Because, this is a failed service, which, does not at all perform its function and for this reason cannot properly monitor a minor sentenced on condition or that should contribute in the public interest. I think that we need to work with children under 14 years old, but I am against the re-opening of the re-education school. The reason is simple. Children will become super professional thieves there. That school would make them professionals because they would learn from each-other”, says the lawyer.
The psychologist Besmira Muça
With the intention of learning more about the psychology of these minors, and what pushes them to enter this road, and above all to repeat thefts Investigim.al contacted a psychologist, who deals with the first moment of contacting the minors when being arrested by the police.. Besmira Muçaj, who, has interrogated the minor Erjon. S several times, and also other minors arrested for thefts, says that E.S is very clear and conscious for what he does, while often he regrets.
“E.S together with his sisters are exploited by older persons, who collect the stolen money and push them to their stealing schemes for other thefts”, says psychologist Muça. According to her, there are several reasons which drive these minors to law violation .They commit thefts because of difficult psycho-social conditions they have experienced in their childhood. One of the main reasons for the thefts is food, therefore stealing money to escape starvation. . Another reason is increased curiosity for the unique schemes to make serial thefts, while the passion for money is not missing”, claims the psychologist being referred mostly to the case of the minor Erjon.S and his family members.
According to her, Erjon S shows deep regret during interrogation and even asks mercy promising that will never make thefts as he is aware that when he will reach 14 years old will be punished with jail. “Specifically, E.S is a cold type of person, clear for what he wants to say, enough clever and does not hesitate to admit his last theft, but also to speak about previous ones and about their tutors”, ends the psychologist. This is the psychology of a child who is obliged by the tutor or hunger to steal, but what pushes the one who is not obliged by the tutor in his endeavor to make a theft!? Many cases in the court show that use of drugs, negatively influence of companions and the inability of the family to fulfill their needs are the main reasons which push minors to steal.
The judge Artan Gjermeni
Decision facsimile of the 14 year old boy Erjon.S sentence
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