► The sanction system in juvenile justice
In Romania, starting from their age-specific psycho-moral traits, the sanction system for minors who break the penal code has varied from one extreme to the other in the last fifty years, from exclusively educative sanctions (supervised freedom or commitment in rehabilitation centres) even for serious crimes (homicide), to sanctions similar to those applicable to adults, depending on the educative or the retributive nature of the sanction that prevailed in the assessment.
Currently, there is a main sanction system applicable to minors (educative measures with/without deprivation of freedom) but some of these measures are almost impossible to enforce either due to the way in which the penal process is regulated or to the magistrates’ reserve when it comes to applying them. The existing rehabilitation centres, specially designed to receive juvenile delinquents sentenced to commitment in a re-education centre, are used to a substandard degree; the sentences relative to minors go from an extreme to the other, more often, either sanctions with no deprivation of freedom or sanctions which send the juvenile offender to prison.
The only way to find solutions for the improvement of these educative measures is to learn about the causes of their lack of efficiency.
Another topic relative to the penal liability of juvenile delinquents that has been intensely discussed in recent years is the possibility of reducing the age at which minors can be held liable for their offences. This is due to the increasing number of crimes committed by 12-13-year olds, whose psycho-moral development is more precocious than forty years ago when the Penal Code was first elaborated, and who are encouraged to commit such crimes precisely by the likelihood of their immunity to penal legal repercussions.
► Speeding up procedures in criminal justice
On November the 25th 2010, Law 202/2010 on some measures for speeding up trial resolutions entered into force.
The need to speed up trial resolutions, regardless of their nature (civil, criminal, commercial, etc) has been fully demonstrated in recent years by the great number of disputes sent to court, and the overburdening of magistrates, which has led to a decreasing quality of justice, an increase in the people’s mistrust in justice, and to an increase of the cost of judiciary activities.
In what regards the criminal law, the need to judge all cases with celerity is also imposed by the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights, which states that everyone is entitled to a fair trial within a reasonable time.
The measures stipulated by Law 202/2010 manage only partially to speed up the resolution of trials, and, in some situations, this speeding up develops in a manner which is likely to violate the litigants’ rights.
The slow pace of trials (mainly of criminal trials) may be linked to the insufficient number of judges (prosecutors, policemen), to the lack of proper working areas, to burdensome judiciary procedures, to defective judiciary management, to the existence of too many cases, to the existence of procedures that allow for abuse, or to other causes.
Efficient correct and balanced measures in order to speed up trials can start only from the proper and full identification of the causes of this phenomenon. Therefore, an inquiry in this field should aim at investigating the causes of this phenomenon and at finding balanced and proficient solutions for these problems.
► Probation - between necessity and proficiency
In criminal law, any offender is given the right to be released from detention before serving a full term, regardless of whether the sentence refers to imprisonment or life in prison.
The possibility of probation is conditioned by the offender’s behaviour in prison, and by a favourable opinion in this respect expressed by the Probation Commission established within the prison where the convict serves time.
Research in this field aims to analyse the legal grounds of this release before the completion of the sentence, and the proficiency of this legal measure that starts from the premise that once discharged from prison before the end of the term ordered by a judge, the offender has been re-educated and would have a proper behaviour in society.
Yet, there are many cases in which the offender returns to criminal behaviour sooner or later after having been released. The causes for this phenomenon may be looked for and analysed in the re-education programs implemented in prisons, in the consistency of the criteria and procedures used to assess the offender’s psycho-behavioural progress when probation is decided upon, in the offender’s social performance after having been released, and in the manner in which society helps in the offender’s reintegration after detention.
The topic needs to be approached not only from the viewpoint of legal assessment but also from a psychological and sociological angle.