The Deputy Minister presented the new solutions adopted by the government, which are already dealt with by the Sejm. – The settlement includes revolutionary solutions for underage mothers. In the mother and child homes of these correctional facilities and juvenile shelters, where there is such need, young mothers will stay with their children. The law therefore prevents the separation of children from their mothers, stressed Michał Woś, who supervised the work on the project.
Comprehensive regulatory reform also means effective punishment for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes and a rational state response. It is about preventing juvenile delinquency and their rehabilitation. This is why the ministry has developed modern regulations in line with international standards.
Laws must first and foremost ensure the well-being of injured parties. However, sometimes in the case of a minor offence, it is better for the school principal to order a minor into community service rather than have the minor appear in court. Such solutions have been included in the project.
In a prison establishment until the age of 24
Minors who commit the most serious crimes, such as murder, rape, pedophilia, will be compulsorily sent to penitentiary establishments. Today, they may be under the supervision of a probation officer only.
The upper age limit for staying in a correctional facility will change. Currently, people up to the age of 21 stay there, regardless of the type of criminal act committed and the results of social rehabilitation. The project introduces the possibility of extending the stay for three years, if the current rehabilitation has not been successful.
This provision applies to the perpetrators of the most serious crimes, and the decision to extend the stay in a correctional institution will be made by the family court. In the case of judgments for the most serious crimes, the court may immediately indicate that the minor must remain in a correctional institution until the age of 24. Anyone who leaves the establishment may be monitored by the court if they have doubts about their degree of social reintegration. Students over the age of 21 will be rehabilitated in a new type of prison for minors who have reached the age of 21.
District educational centers
The new, stricter facilities will be for those who have committed a criminal act and have reached the age of 13, and – in exceptional cases – for people who, although they have not committed criminal act, but are strongly demoralized (for example, by taking drugs), and the measures which were already applied to them were ineffective (for example, the young people ran away several times from the reception centers for young people). A family court will decide on placement in this facility.
The youngest will not be judged
The new regulations set the minimum age of responsibility for behavior that violates the legal order or constitutes signs of demoralization at the level of 10 years. Today, the law does not provide for a minimum age for such a person, so even six-year-olds who steal a candy bar from a store or fight with their friends can be tried.
work for school
Schoolboy antics, while sometimes dangerous, are usually not the result of demoralization, but are the result of growth problems or excess youthful energy. In such cases, it usually makes no sense to initiate juvenile delinquency proceedings against the pupil, which may end, for example, in placement in an educational center for young people. With better educational results, the problem can be solved on the spot. The new regulation will allow principals, for example, to refer students for less serious cleaning infractions in and around school.
The commission will select the establishment
The law guarantees the appointment of a Therapeutic Agent Committee, which will direct the court to an appropriate facility for a minor in the event of an adolescent’s mental health issues. For now, the family courts have to manage the search for the right center on their own, which is difficult and delays help. This is extremely important, as judges are sounding the alarm that there are more and more young people in need of specialized care.
More readily available public defender
The new regulations strengthen the procedural guarantees for minors. Young people will have the right to the assistance of a defense lawyer from the start of any activity with their participation, for example placement in a youth educational center or a treatment centre, and in the event of a justified suspicion that a minor has committed a prohibited act. Minors who cannot afford a lawyer of their choice will benefit from the assistance of a public defense lawyer. He will be appointed by the family court.
The correctness of the solutions prepared by the Ministry of Justice is confirmed by the results of the survey of the IPC Research Institute on changes in Polish legislation concerning minors. Among the respondents, 66.4 percent. believes that minors who have committed murder or other serious crimes should remain in penal institutions until the age of 24. 62.9% of respondents believe that a 6-year-old child should not be held responsible in court, and 79.2% that one of the penalties could be cleaning work around the school.
Communication and promotion office
Ministry of Justice