Home Law International Handbook of Juvenile Justice
Juvenile imprisonment is only possible for the older group of juveniles aged between 16 and 18 years old and in special circumstances for young adults aged 18-21. Excluding the younger group of minors from the option of juvenile imprisonment is not a uniquely Slovenian feature (Dhnkel et al. 2009), but it is consistent with the overall welfarist approach to juvenile delinquents (Filipcic 2006). A juvenile prison sentence can only be imposed in the case of serious offenses for which a sentence of 5 years or more is prescribed. The Court needs to consider the seriousness of the offense and the level of the juvenile’s criminal responsibility as well as the juvenile’s maturity and the time necessary for his rehabilitation and vocational training. If a sentence of juvenile imprisonment is imposed, the court has to explain why an educational measure would not be appropriate, which is in line with the stated general purpose of punishment of juveniles, i.e., rehabilitation (Filipcic and Prelic 2011).
A juvenile may be imprisoned for a period not shorter than 6 months and not longer than 5 years. Only in the case of criminal offenses punishable by 30 years imprisonment for adults (e.g., aggravated murder), the maximum for juveniles is set at 10 years. This differs from general rules on imprisonment for adults, which put the general minimum sentence at 30 days and the general maximum at 30
years (exceptionally allowing for a life sentence). Similar to other European countries the minimum prison sentence for juveniles is higher than the minimum prison sentence for adults; however, this should not be deemed as a reflection of a more repressive approach to juvenile offenders. A higher threshold aims at mirroring the rehabilitation purpose of the prison sentence and the belief that rehabilitation and treatment programs cannot be successfully carried out within a short period of time (Filipcic and Prelic 2011).
In practice, as seen in Table 19.7, over 70 % of juveniles sentenced to imprisonment receive a sentence below 2 years, which is rather consistent with adult sentences. Longer sentences are almost an exception, with less than 14 % of juveniles sentenced to more than 3 years and less than 5 % sentenced to more than 6 years. There have only been two maximum sentences (10 years) in the past 14 years.
Only a small percentage of juveniles serve the entire prison sentence, as most of them are released before the full sentence runs out. This can occur in two ways—either by being granted conditional release by a special committee set by the Ministry of Justice after a juvenile serves one third of the sentence, or by being granted early release by the Prison Warden. The former is the classical rehabilitative instrument practiced in other systems and may entail a rather substantive proportion of the prison sentence being served outside the prison, while the latter is a sort of reward for good behavior which only allows the warden to shorten the prisoner’s stay for a couple of months (Plesnicar 2012a). In the last
Table 19.7. Length of juvenile imprisonment sentences, 2001-2014
(Source: Prison Administration Office)
Table 19.8. Release of juveniles from juvenile imprisonment
aOne of the released juveniles was a girl (Source: Prison Administration Office)
10 years (between 2005 and 2014), 35 juveniles were released from juvenile prison; only 23 % of them served their entire sentences, 54 % were conditionally released on average 6 months before their full sentence, and 20 % were released 1 month prior to the full sentence (Table 19.8).
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