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September 6, 2013

Crime and Guilt: punishment the German Way

I read one of the best books ever on criminal justice on holiday.  A friend recommended Crime and Guilt by Ferdinand Von Schirach, a book I had never previously heard of.  It was brilliant….a series of short series based on people Ferdinand had defended in the German Courts. Ferdinand is a lawyer and a brilliant writer with huge empathy for his clients, including the guilty.   What is interesting to someone steeped in the English system, is how much less punitive the German Courts seem to be.   A man who stages an armed bank robbery, and another who violently killed his wife were given sentences that would probably be illegal in this country.  Friedhelm Fahner, who was 72 when he killed the wife who had tormented him, was sentenced to three years imprisonment.  He could serve this on day release, spending nights in jail, but was allowed out during the day.  How humane.