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Corrections System in Hungary

NCJ Number
Journal of the Institute of Justice and International Studies Issue: 1 Dated: 2002 Pages: 35-43
Andrea Dombrady
Date Published
9 pages
Following a comprehensive description of the Hungarian corrections system, this paper focuses on Hungary's use of pretrial detention.
The legal regulation of corrections in Hungary is based on the theory called "the three pillars of the jurisdiction." Under this theory, the criminal code prescribes punishments as consequences of unlawful behavior; the court passes a judgment; and the state enforces it. The first "pillar" is the legislation by substantive criminal law; the second "pillar" is the criminal court by the procedural law; and the third "pillar" is the enforcement authority by penitential law. Before the political reforms that occurred in 1990, the general aim of corrections in Hungary was to re-educate criminals to become worthy members of the communist society. This was attempted largely through coercive means. Under the reforms of the 1990's, the death penalty was abolished as contrary to the basic human right to life. Under the law-decree, the aim of imprisonment is punishment, but it is intended to help the offender assume a constructive role in society and avoid further crime. The correctional institutions are county jails and prisons, with both types of institutions administered by the state. The rules of the institutions provide for compliance with custodial procedures, participation in vocational training and tasks, and involvement in programs designed to achieve positive personality development. A suspect may be kept in pretrial detention until the police have completed the investigation of his/her crime. In practice, pretrial detention often violates some basic human rights, notably the right to a fair procedure that limits the length of time a person may be held in pretrial detention. Hungary has no bail system, leading to overcrowding and poor conditions in detention facilities.