Sweden's Current Justice System Term Paper

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Sweden's Current Justice System

Overview of the Country: Sweden


Sweden is located in Northern Europe it borders the Baltic Sea the Gulfs of Bothnia, Kattegat, and Skagerrak and lays between Finland and Norway in a strategic location along the Danish Straits linking the Baltic and north Seas. ("Sweden," 2008, NP)


The geographic composition of Sweden includes 3,218 km of coastline and land that is mostly flat or with gently rolling lowlands, and a small portion of mountains in the west. The climate is mostly temperate in the south with cold, cloudy winters and cool partly cloudy summers and is sub-arctic in the north. Sweden also has a very limited area of arable land, 5.93% with only 0.1% dedicated to permanent crops, 1,150 square km of land are irrigated and Sweden has limited fresh water supplies as well. Sweden is roughly the size of California or France. ("Sweden," 2008, NP)

Population Size and Ethnic Composition:

As of 2007, the CIA world factbook estimates the Swedish population as 9,031,088. With and age breakdown of: "0-14 years: 16.4% (male 759,488/female 717,812)Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Term Paper on Sweden's Current Justice System Assignment

15-64 years: 65.7% (male 3,007,899/female 2,926,220) 65 years and over: 17.9% (male 707,687/female 911,982) (2007 est.)" ("Sweden," 2008, NP) the ethnic composition is mostly an indigenous population of Swedes with small Finnish and Sami minorities. The Sami are indigenous peoples who live mainly in small communities and are associated with reindeer husbandry; the group was previously known as Lapps, which they consider a derogatory term and is now known as the Sami or Saemieh, which translates to the reindeerpeople. There are populations of Sami, indigenous to Sweden, Jemtland and H. rjedalen as well as those who are indigenous tot the regional area known as Lapland. The culture is largely independent of the regional governmental cultures and is unique to the are of Scandinavia. ("An Introduction to the Sami..." 1996, NP) the population of Sweden also includes small minority of foreign-born or first-generation immigrants which include Finns, Yugoslavs, Danes, Norwegians, Greeks and Turks. The language spoken in the nation is majority Swedish with a small percentage of Sami and Finnish speaking minorities. The CIA world factbook also notes the religious composition as follows: "87% Lutheran and a 13% minority of other faiths including: Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Baptist, Muslim, Jewish, and Buddhist." ("Sweden," 2008, NP)

Political System and System of Government:

Sweden is governed as a Constitutional Monarchy. The Monarch is the Head of Stare, (King CARL XVI GUSTAF (since 19 September 1973) ("Sweden," 2008, NP) while the Prime Minister, elected by the parliament serves as the head of government (Fredrik REINFELDT (since 5 October 2006). The Parliament (Riksdag) is elected by popular vote (suffrage universal at 18 years) and holds 349 seats, on a proportional representative schedule and parliament members serve four-year terms. The current constitution was adopted January 1, 1975 and serves as the major source of governmental decision making. The popular vote of the Parliament then results in an appointment of a Prime Minister, the next elections will be held in 2010. ("Sweden," 2008, NP)

The Parliament must approve all national taxes, annual budgets and legislation. The decision-making powers of parliament are without limitation, beyond those based on specific rules in the Constitution, such as protection of free speech, the ban on capital punishment, and the independence of the court and State civil service in enforcing laws. (Wikstrom & Dolman, 1993, NP)

The position of the monarch is largely ceremonial, and most governmental decisions are made by the parliament and state, local and regional governments. (Wikstrom & Dolman, 1993, NP) the judicial system is described as follows:

The judicial system is normally taken to comprise the agencies responsible for ensuring legal security and the rule of law. The courts form the backbone of this system. Agencies for crime prevention and investigation, i.e., the Swedish Police Service, the Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority, the Swedish Prosecution Authority, the Swedish National Economic Crimes Bureau and the Swedish Prison and Probation Service are also regarded as part of the judicial system. Other public agencies, such as the National Board of Forensic Medicine and the enforcement services, also have tasks within or linked to the judicial system. ("The Swedish Judicial System," 2007, p. 3)

The Swedish judicial system and the Ministry of Justice in general have relatively broad roles and responsibilities, and are even responsible for budget and funding of crime agencies as well as some core crime related legislation. ("The Swedish Judicial System," 2007, p. 3)

Description of Crime and Crime Statistics

Swedish penal code does not classify crimes and infractions separately and crime itself is based on legal definitions of crime based on the penal code. There is however a grouping of crimes together in subgroups which are guided by principle and pragmatism and have developed over time. In Sweden the age of criminal responsibility is 15, though there are many provisional exceptions to conviction and sentencing for those under 21, and those under the age of 18 are very rarely sentenced to prison terms. Special circumstances must exist for the occurrence of prison sentencing for those under 18 and in many cases also those under 21. Sweden also has a very strict comparative policy on drug offences. It is illegal to possess, bring in, buy or use narcotics in Sweden and narcotics are classified by a list that includes 170 substances, including cannabis. Use of narcotics was criminalized in 1988. Completed murder, according to the Swedish penal code is any act that ends with the death of an individual, no matter the ensuing charge, murder, manslaughter or assault, and murder statistics are compiled with attempted murder, though some statistical difficulties occur. Rape, is classified in the penal code as forced or imminent threat of copulation, though penetration does not have to occur for rape charge to be filed and again attempted rape is included with completed rape in statistics. Women can also be charged with rape, but cases are extremely rare. Theft is also considered a crime, and cases of serious or the most extreme cases include car theft and burglary. (Wikstrom & Dolman, 1993, NP)

Major Crimes and Current Crime Issue:

According to Wikstrom & Dolman in the World Factbook of Criminal Justice Systems, Sweden has had an overall increase in the incidence of crime, since 1975, but that such increases are more excessive in larger cities, and especially Stockholm, the area with the largest increase in all types of crime. Increases in violent crime, drug crime and crimes of property are generally all seen but as has been mentioned in larger proportions in the more urban areas of the nation. (Wikstrom & Dolman, 1993, NP) There has also been a strong trend of reformation in the nation across all systems associated with prevention and treatment of crime. ("The Swedish Judicial System," 2007, p. 3)

Country Acquisition, Compilation & Reporting of Crime Statistics

All crime statistics in Sweden are acquired through reports to police and other crime related agencies and crimes are not removed from statistics even if they prove to be unfounded or if no criminal intent or offender is discovered. (Wikstrom & Dolman, 1993, NP) the statistics are collected by police and then compiled by the Ministry of Justice, to elicit information for needed changes to laws and other legislation relating to crime, a responsibility of the Ministry of Justice, rather than the broader legislative branch. ("The Swedish Judicial System," 2007, p. 3)

Examples of Compiled Crime Statistics

Examples of compiled crime statistics for Sweden are best provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, World Factbook of Criminal Justice Systems.

Crime statistics.

Murder. The Swedish crime statistics include attempts but completed and attempted homicides are also shown separately. The definition of a completed homicide is all criminal cases causing the death of the victim regardless of whether they are charged as murder, manslaughter or assault combined with causing another persons death. In 1992 there were a total of 174 completed criminal homicides. The corresponding figure for 1993 was 173. However, a special analysis of all homicides recorded in 1992 showed that almost one third of the cases appearing in the statistics as completed homicides, in fact, were not. The accurate figure should be around 120 cases. This probably also holds for the 1993 figure. The level of homicide has been fairly constant in Sweden since the mid 1970s, fluctuating between 120 to 140 homicides annually.

Rape. In 1993 there were 2,153 police recorded crimes of rape; of these 1,608 were completed; the rest were attempts. According to Swedish law a rape is defined as follows; if a person, by violence or by threat involving, or appearing to the threatened person as involving, imminent danger, forces the latter to copulate or have comparable sexual intercourse, he or she shall be sentenced for rape. Penetration of the woman's body is not necessary for a case to constitute a rape. Since 1984 a female can be charged with rape but such cases have been extremely rare.

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