MS: Homes for mothers with children – a new solution for the reform of the law on minors (communication)

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The Ministry of Justice informs:

– This is the last straight line of the biggest reform of the youth probation system in Poland for almost 40 years. The new law, drafted by the Ministry of Justice, will enable more effective social rehabilitation and help solve educational problems in schools, Deputy Justice Minister Michał Woś said during a visit to the youth detention center and youth shelter in Zawiercie.

The state secretary presented new solutions from the government, which are already being discussed by the Sejm. – The regulations include: revolutionary solutions for underage mothers. In homes for mothers and children in these correctional institutions and shelters for minors, where there is such a need, young mothers will stay with their children. The law therefore prevents children from separating from their mothers, emphasized Michał Woś, who oversaw work on the project.

A thorough regulatory reform also means an effective punishment of the perpetrators of the most serious crimes and a rational response from the state. It is about the prevention of juvenile delinquency and their rehabilitation. That is why the ministry has drawn up modern regulations that are in line with international standards.

Laws must first and foremost ensure the well-being of the injured parties. However, sometimes in a minor offense it is better for the school principal to order the minor to do community service than to have that person appear in court. Such solutions were included in the project.

In a correctional facility until the age of 24

Juvenile offenders of the most serious crimes, such as murder, rape, pedophilia, will be sent to penitentiary institutions. Today it happens that they are only under the supervision of a probation officer.

The age limit for staying in a penitentiary is changing. It currently houses people up to the age of 21, regardless of the type of offense committed and the results of the probation service. The design introduces the possibility to extend the stay by three years, if the current rehabilitation is not successful.

This provision applies to the perpetrators of the most serious crimes and the decision to extend the stay in a penitentiary will be taken by the family court. In the case of judgments for the most serious crimes, the judge can immediately indicate that the minor must remain in a correctional institution until the age of 24. Anyone who leaves the institution can be accompanied by the judge in case of doubt about the degree of probation. Pupils over 21 years of age will rehabilitate in a new type of penitentiary for minors who have reached the age of 21.

District Education Centers

The new, stricter provisions are aimed at those who have committed a criminal offense and reach the age of 13, and – in exceptional cases – for people who, although not committing an offence, are highly demoralized (e.g. drug use) , and the measures already in place applied to them were ineffective (for example, young people often ran away from youth care centres). A family court will decide on placement in this provision.

The youngest will not be brought to justice

The new regulations define the minimum age of responsibility for behavior that violates the rule of law or constitutes signs of demoralization at the level of 10 years. Today, the law does not provide for the minimum age for such a person, so even six-year-old children who steal a candy bar in a store or fight with their friends can face charges.

Work for the school

School antics, while dangerous at times, are usually not the result of demoralization, but are the result of problems growing up or an excess of youthful energy. In such cases, it usually makes no sense to initiate juvenile delinquency proceedings against the student, which may end, for example, in a placement in a youth training center. With a better learning result, the problem can be solved on the spot. The new regulation makes it possible for school principals, for example, to refer pupils for less serious offenses to cleaning up in and around the school.

The committee will select the facility

The law guarantees the appointment of a therapeutic agent commission, which the court will designate a facility suitable for a minor in the event of a teen’s mental health problems. For now, the family courts have to handle the search for the right center on their own, which is difficult and delays help. That is extremely important, because judges are sounding the alarm that there are more and more young people who need specialist care.

Public defender more readily available

The new regulations strengthen the procedural guarantees of minors. Young people have the right to assist a lawyer from the start of all activities with their participation, for example placement in a youth training center or treatment center, and in case of a justified suspicion that a minor has committed a prohibited act. Minors who cannot afford an attorney of their choice may be assisted by a public defense attorney. It will be appointed by the family court.

Relevant solutions

The accuracy of the solutions prepared by the Ministry of Justice is confirmed by the results of the IPC Research Institute investigation into changes in the Polish legislation regarding minors. Among the respondents 66.4 percent. believes that minors who have committed murder or other serious crimes should remain in penal institutions for up to 24 years. 62.9 percent of respondents believe that a 6-year-old child should not be held accountable in court, and 79.2% that one of the punishments could be cleaning around the school.

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