Recidivism in the Albanian Criminal Justice System

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Concern for alternatives to imprisonment and intermediate penalties is fueled by an unprecedented rise in crime which certainly was a consequence of a process of government’s approach against informality and corruption. In particular, the rise in property crimes places a heavy burden on criminal justice systems. New forms of crime emerging with technological, economic and social advances increased the cases to be processed through the criminal justice system. The rise in bulk property crime and motor vehicle offences brought also a sharp increase of people which came to the attention of the criminal justice systems and ultimately was convicted and sentenced.
Prison sentences have become longer, in particular for drug trafficking and violent offences. Concern for violent offences (including domestic violence) as well as sexual offences, from the viewpoint of both retribution and incapacitation of the dangerous offender, contribute also to the increase in the prison population.
While intermediate sanctions were developed within the framework of rehabilitation or diversion (trying to avoid the negative side-effects of imprisonment and other criminal sanctions), security and risk management have become leading motives in penal policy. The focus of penal policy has switched to organized crime, transnational and cross-border crimes as well as sensitive and highly polarizing crimes such as hate and sexual violence, terrorism and drug crimes.
A debate on over-criminalization and over-penalization is ensued pointing out especially the risk to the basic (preventive) function of criminal law resulting from imposing too much punishment.
The observation that most offenders will not relapse into crime and that in fact most first-time offenders remained one-time offenders encourage the pursuit of a two-track penal policy. Data used for the assessment study confirm that chronic offending and criminal careers are confined to a small group of offenders (see Table 1) and that most offenders coming to the attention of police are one-time or occasional offenders.
 Table. 1 No of recidivists according to classification in general and specific categories

Recidivists/years

2011

2012

2013

2014

General

227

224

217

282

Specific

209

165

158

143

Data for 2015 are collected, and used in the follow up process during 2016. According to October 2015, the number of prison population was over 6782 inmates, which is aprox.37% higher than the prison capacities.
The high rate if imprisonment to special categories such as juvenile offenders has proved quite negative with regards to the increased numbers of recidivisms. Young offenders grown up in difficult and poor families, with drug abuse and prostitution criminal charges find imprisonment of no rehabilitative purpose, but rather as an opportunity to pass “the crisis” in “a place”.
The context in which the Study was finalized has considered the current law amendments on the treatment of persons deprived of their liberties, the launching of an Analytical Document on the Judiciary Reforms and ARCT presence in the Albanian Parliament as part of the active voices in the process of the reforms in the Judiciary system.