Sweden is set to build special prison wards for young offenders in a bid to curb organized crime, the government said on Thursday.
The wards will be in place by 2026 and tailored to offenders aged 15 to 17, Minister for Justice Gunnar Strommer told business newspaper Dagens Industri (DI).
Currently, offenders who are too young to be imprisoned are sent to residential homes run by the Swedish National Board of Institutional Care (SiS), alongside children with other psychosocial problems such as drug abuse.
Strommer said that the reform is necessary in order to ensure that teens convicted of serious crimes receive the best possible rehabilitation.
“Dedicated wards adapted to a young target group must be built, so offenders with training and treatment can leave without relapsing into crime,” Strommer said. This will also enable SiS to make better use of its resources, he added.
Several young criminals have recently escaped SiS, in certain cases with the assistance of individuals outside the prison armed with guns.
In one recent incident, a 16-year-old boy shot and killed a known gang leader in a busy shopping center in the southern city of Malmo.
So far this year, 42 people have been killed in gun violence in Sweden, and in many cases the victims and suspects were teenagers.
In the last twenty years, Sweden has seen an increase in gun crime. In a study of 23 European countries released in 2021, the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention found that Sweden had moved from the lowest number of shootings to the highest in the 2000-2019 period.
This trend has since continued, and the government has pledged to clamp down on gun violence.
In a televised address to the nation on Thursday evening, following some of the bloodiest weeks in Swedish modern history, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said that he would meet with the supreme commander of the Swedish Armed Forces on Friday to discuss how the army could assist the police.
Source : The Star