The murder of Laura Luelmo at the hands of Bernardo Montoya, An offender who had killed an elderly woman who lived alone 23 years earlier has resuscitated the debate on whether or not to punish these criminals in the Penal Code. The PP used this crime to demand in the Congresor a revisable permanent prison extension, approved only three years ago and applied to five murderers.
The lawyers consulted maintain that these measures do not have the efficacy that is proclaimed or reduce the murders. But they agree that some crimes committed by recidivists should make politicians reflect on possible legislative improvements in the punitive system.
"When the arrival of democracy brought the elimination of the death penalty, except for wartime, no one reflected on what to do with the terrible criminal," says Judge Arturo Beltrán. "It was thought that democracy would bring holiness, it would make us better, and that is a mistake. We had a terrorist phenomenon that got worse … democracy does not bring absence of crimes. Then it was legislated by impulses. First, the redemption of sentences in prison was eliminated, which guaranteed full and maximum 30 years of compliance. Then it was increased to 40 … ", continues Beltrán. Later, in 2010, the Criminal Code was amended to introduce probation, a sentence after the penalty.
"Up to now there are 52 sentences that impose probation after the sentence has been served," explains José Luis Castro, head of the National Audit Office of the National Court of Penitentiary. But even in a few years, when the control measure is really put into practice after those convicts are released, their effects will not be known. Castro raises an idea to control criminals that, like Montoya, they killed again after serving the sentence. Although the probation can only be established in a conviction and only since 2010, Castro asks to reflect on the possibility that prison supervision judges have the capacity to agree this measure for prisoners with a clear diagnosis of recidivism. "I understand that it has a difficult juridical fit for the non-retroactivity of the norms, but it seems to me opportune that that possibility is studied", affirms the magistrate.
When Montoya was released after 20 years, the prison treatment board did not make a diagnosis about his reintegration or the risk of recidivism. No regulation establishes it. "It would be good if in certain cases we could make diagnoses that we would transfer to the surveillance judges to establish protocols in contact with social services or others that would help the person who has been freed from his or her social reintegration," says Florencia Pozuelo, Head of Treatments of Penitentiary Institutions.
"In Spain we put exceptional penalties like revisable permanent prison for exceptional criminals ", specifies Beltrán. "There are in other countries. I, a priori, reject it. It is an indivisible penalty, there is no lower or higher degree than in any other penalty, it is not presented as an alternative to others, nor has it been preceded by field studies that say 30 or 40 years are insufficient. It often responds to external stimuli with the idea of transmitting exemplary punishments and that there is a great concern to defend the safety of citizens. "
The criminologist and professor at the University of Valencia Vicente Garrido believes that the value of this measure does not consist in intimidating future murderers. "It has a disabling effect on serial killers and homicidal psychopaths," he says. "That measure has almost all countries with a longer history in democracy than us and nobody rips their clothes."
Garrido recalls that in Spain there is no figure of the delegate of probation or conditional release: "We already know for years with rigorous studies that are effective in preventing recidivism, controlling high-risk delinquents and facilitating social reintegration in those in which this is possible. The police are not there to do that function. "
The expert adds that Spain has spent years paying for the training of thousands of criminologists and now there are 15,000 students studying this degree who then devote themselves to other things. "It is an absurdity, but it seems that no government is able to create that body, which would save a lot of money because they would be released on parole that they do not get now because the judges know that no one is going to control them."