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More rigor in the Penal Code

June 27th, 2012

Commentators agree that the new criminal code is more punitive than the previous one, but opinions differ as to how useful the changes are.

In Népszabadság, Károly Lencsés complains that the new code has been accepted too hastily by Parliament, which devoted a mere two to three days’ debate to it. He deplores the fact that imprisonment is the central element of the new law, for it mainly discusses how much time an offender must spend in jail, rather than contemplating what alternative tools could be used by the authorities. Lencsés believes “humanising the punitive system could be much more productive than mere retribution”.

In Magyar Nemzet, Matild Torkos contends that the severity of the code is not the main controversial issue, for most citizens feel more secure when they hear about the heavier sentences which await criminals. She admits however that longer prison terms will not solve the problems of those living in remote villages where police officers are rarely seen before the irreparable happens. The right-wing commentator mentions doubts about the newly lowered minimum punishment age of 12 and the broadened admissibility of killing in self-defence (in cases of intrusions in groups and at night). She concludes by warning that increasing severity will not be sufficient to deter criminals. That would require a moral renewal in law enforcement, and a more efficient judiciary, she concludes.

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