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Correctional System in the Federal Republic of Germany (From Adult Corrections: International Systems and Perspectives, P 131-157, 2004, John A. Winterdyk, ed. -- See NCJ-208147)

NCJ Number
Kai Bammann; Johannes Feest
Date Published
27 pages
Following the presentation of basic facts on Germany's demographics, climate, economy, and government, this chapter reviews the history of German corrections, profiles the current correctional population, identifies issues confronting corrections today, and considers future directions in corrections.
Liberal correctional policies influenced by Great Britain and the United States prevailed in most German States before the Nazis came to power and instituted an authoritarian criminal law under the direct control of the central government. The concept of deterrence was based on extreme severity of punishment. After the end of the Nazi regime and World War II, legislation in criminal matters remained the responsibility of the central government, but the administration of criminal justice reverted back to the States. Under the dominant theory in German public law, prisoners had no rights since they were under a "special relation of subjugation" to the state. This changed in 1977 under the new Prison Act, which mandates that life in corrections shall mirror as much as possible general living conditions outside prison. In German adult sentencing there are only two major alternatives to imprisonment, i.e., the suspended prison sentence and the day fine. Fines compose approximately 80 percent of all criminal sentences; however, about 5 percent eventually lead to imprisonment for fine default. The remaining 20 percent are prison sentences, of which two-thirds are suspended. In the first few years after reunification, the East German prison population declined from 24,000 to 5,000, largely due to the release of many political prisoners. Since 1991, however, the imprisonment rate has increased to its previous level of about 90 per 100,000 of the general population. Among the issues confronting corrections in Germany today are drug addiction and related HIV infections from needle sharing, prison overcrowding and the maintenance of humane prison conditions, and the privatization of corrections. In the future, German corrections is likely to be significantly influenced by regulations and court decisions that emanate from the European Union. 3 tables, 1 figure, discussion questions, Web-links, 16 references, and 25 notes