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Updated: August 2012
Preventive Detention is an indefinite sentence that may be given to dangerous, accountable offenders with the purpose of protecting the community against new serious criminality. Legislation on preventive detention came into force on 01.01.2002, and replaced previous legislation on a similar type of sentence called «sikring».
Male offenders sentenced to preventive detention are placed in Ila prison and detention center and Trondheim prison. Female offenders with this type of sentence are placed in Bredtveit prison and detention center in Oslo. Ila has 67 places available for those on preventive detention, Trondheim has 10 and Bredtveit has up to 5.
Conditions for a sentence to preventive detention
A basic precondition for preventive detention is that a general time-limited prison sentence is insufficient for protecting the community. Such a sentence also presupposes that the offence committed or attempted to commit is a serious violent or sexual offence, an offence concerning deprivation of liberty, arson or any other offence directed against a person’s life, health or freedom. There also needs to be a clear risk of re-offending in a similarly serious way.
In addition, the Penal Code provides the possibility for a sentence to preventive detention for less serious offences in the above-mentioned categories in case the offender has committed or attempted to commit a similar offence earlier. There also needs to be a clear connection between the offences, and the assumed risk of re-offending must be particularly high.
Time-frame and minimum period
Even though the sentence is indefinite in length, a time-frame will have to be established. This time-frame cannot stretch over more than 21 years and should as a rule not be more than 15 years. The law demands a minimum period to be established which cannot be longer than 10 years. The court may extend the time-frame by up to five years at a time when the risk of serious re-offending is still considered to be present. This implies that preventive detention in principle may lead to a life-time in prison.
Contents in Preventive detention
A sentence to preventive detention must be implemented in a more individualised way than other imprisonment sentences. Therefore, such offenders must be placed in a prison or a prison-ward with relevant special arrangements.
The aim of preventive detention is that the offender will change his or her behaviour and adapt to a law-abiding life. The contents of a sentence to preventive detention is designed with the offenders possibilities for a development in this direction in mind, and will as much as possible be adjusted to the individual’s specific needs. It is based on cross-professional collaboration and wards for preventive detention have access to more resources than general high-security wards. There are strict demands to the registration of activities and of the offender’s development.
Many regulations for preventive detention are the same as for a general prison sentence, like for example for visits, disciplinary sanctions, control measures etc.
When the offender in question is no longer considered to be a threat to the community, a conditional release will be arranged. When a minimum period has been established, the offender can only be conditionally released after this period has ended.
Conditional release from preventive detention is as a rule decided upon by the court. However, if the Correctional Services and the Office of the Public Prosecutor agree on conditional release, the Correctional Services may make this decision.
A probation period for conditional release may be set up to five years. The Penal Code provides extensive access to formulating specific conditions in this case. Conditions may be formulated inter alia pertaining to place of residence, work, education, prohibition of the use of intoxicants and follow-up by the Correctional Services. In particular cases the court may impose conditions concerning a stay in a treatment institution or a municipal living-unit for longer than a year. This condition is especially relevant when the offender has been diagnosed with a minor psychological development deficit.
The offender will be followed up by the probation office during the period of conditional release. It will report possible breaches to the Public Prosecutor and to the regional level of the Correctional Services. In the case of repeated or serious breaches the Public Prosecutor will demand re-incarceration by the court.
Information to victims on release
If it is important for the victim or his or her relatives to know the time of conditional release, the Correctional Services must inform them beforehand. The information must also contain the specific conditions titled in legislation if these have an immediate consequence for the victim or his or her relatives.