Comparing Criminal Justice Systems: Venezuela vs Denmark

Background Denmark The small, European country of Denmark lies just on the border of the North and Baltic Seas upon the peninsula of Germany, also flanked by Norway and Sweden. It is less than twice the size of Massachusetts at 43,094 square kilometers. The weather is generally temperate, humid and overcast with windy winters and cool summers. Denmark’s natural resources include petroleum, natural gas, fish, salt, limestone, chalk, stone, gravel and sand. Denmark has a population of 5,484,723 with 65. 9% between the ages of 15 and 64 years old. The population growth rate is 0. 95%; they have a birth rate of 10. 71 per 1000 people and a death rate of 10. 25. The migration rate is 2. 49 per 1000 people and the residents have a life expectancy of 78. 13 years. The nationality of the people of Denmark is Dane, or Danish. The Danish ethnic groups include Scandinavian, Inuit, Faroese, German, Turkish, Iranian, and Somali. As far as religious beliefs, 95% of Denmark are Evangelical Lutheran, 3% other Christian including Protestant and Roman Catholic and 3% Muslim. The main languages spoken are Danish, Faroese, Greenlandic and German and the predominant second language is English.
The Danes have a 99% literacy rate and the school life expectancy is 17 years. (CIA: World Fact book) Venezuela Venezuela is a much larger country of 912,050 square kilometers and population 26,414,816 in Northern South America bordering the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. It lies flush with Columbia, Brazil and Guyana. It is slightly more than twice the size of California with a tropical climate—hot and humid. 63. 8% of the population is between the ages of 15 and 64 years old. The population growth rate is 1. 98% with a birth rate of 20. 92 per 1000 population and 5. 1 deaths per 1000 population. The net migration rate is -. 084 per 1000 population and their life expectancy from birth is 73. 45 years. Their nationality is Venezuelan and their ethnic groups are Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Arab, German, African, and indigenous people; Spanish is the official language. 96% of Venezuela is nominally Roman Catholic, 2% Protestant and 2% other religions entirely. 93% of Venezuelans are literate and the average school expectancy rate is 12 years. Law Denmark
Denmark is a constitutional monarchy, with the Queen fulfilling the role of head of state, and the government formed out of the parliament. Denmark has a unicameral (single chamber) parliament, with deputies elected through a system of proportional representation, though each member also represents a constituency. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Demark) The political system of Denmark is a multi-party structure, where several parties are represented in the Parliament. Danish governments are most often minority administrations, governing with the aid of one or more supporting parties.

This means that Danish politics are characterized by inter-party compromising. Since 1909 no single party has had the majority of parliamentary seats. A popularly elected parliament, Folketinget, governs the country and the prime minister, the nation’s chief political officer, usually comes from the ranks of the majority party. The Faroe Islands and Greenland come under nominal rule from Denmark. (Visit Denmark) The capital of Denmark is Copenhagen and the chief of state is Queen Margrethe II since January 14, 1972, and Heir Apparent Crown Prince Frederik, the eldest son of the monarch.
The head of the government is Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen since 27 November 2001. The monarch is hereditary, however following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by the monarch. Supreme Court judges are appointed by the monarch for life terms. Criminal offenses are defined either in the special part of the Criminal Code or in separate statutes. The general conditions for imposing criminal penalties are found in the general part of the Criminal Code which also apply to separate statutes.
The sanctions described in the general part of the Criminal Code are the same whether the criminal offense consists of a violation of the Criminal Code or of separate statutes. The substantive Danish criminal law is monistic, meaning that violations of the law never have been divided into categories like felony/misdemeanor, crime/delicts or the like. It does not mean, however, that major offenses are treated in the same manner as petty offenses in all respects. (Ravn, Lene) The age of criminal responsibility is 15 years old. According to the Criminal Code the mere possession of narcotic drugs is criminalized.
However, the law is not enforced regarding possession of very small amounts meant for the drug addict’s own consumption. Possession and selling is penalized in a special law on drugs containing the possibility of imprisonment for a period of up to two years. Serious cases of trafficking of drugs are punished with imprisonment within a range of one month to ten years according to the Criminal Code. Venezuela Venezuela’s political system is a Federal Republic. The current Venezuelan constitution was adopted in 1999. Important changes were made regarding the structure of the government as well as in human rights and community participation.
Since the approval by referendum of this constitution, the government consists of five branches, the Executive, Legislative, Judicial, Citizen and Electoral. The Executive Branch: The President and his cabinet. The President is elected by universal, direct and secret ballot for a six-year term. The President may be re-elected for one additional consecutive term only. Legislative: One chamber National Assembly composed by 165 deputies elected for a five- year term. Deputies may be re-elected for up to one additional consecutive term. Judiciary: The new constitution renamed the Supreme Court as the Supreme Tribunal of Justice.
Justices are nominated by the civil society. Final appointment requires the approval of at least two thirds of the legislative branch. The Citizens Branch: Created to safeguard public ethics, to ensure respect for the principle of legality in the Administration, and to assume the defense of human rights. The Ombudsman or Defender of the People, the Attorney General and the Comptroller General form this power The Electoral Branch: This authority is independent from other Government Branches and is appointed by nominations from the civil society. Administrative Division: 22 states, 1 federal district and the federal dependencies.
State Governors are elected for a four-year term and may be re-elected for one additional consecutive term only. Most Venezuelans are Roman Catholic. The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. All faiths have churches and people may worship freely. Venezuela’s people result from the mingling of European, Amerindian, and African cultures. Traditionally a haven for people of all origins, Venezuela received large waves of immigrants from Europe following World War II and from other Latin American and Caribbean nations during the 1970s. (Embassy)
The Venezuelan chief of state and head of government is President Hugo Chavez Frias since February 3, 1999. The Executive Vice President Ramon Alonzo Carrizalez Rengifo since 4 January 2008. The Venezuelan Penal Code distinguishes between crimes, punishable by imprisonment, and misdemeanors (faltas), punishable by arrests or fines. In the Penal Code, crimes are classified by major types, as follows: * Crimes against national sovereignty and national security — treason; crimes against national and state government; crimes against international law * Crimes against liberty — crimes against political, personal, religious freedom, etc. Corruption — these are defined in a special anti-corruption law, enacted in 1982 * Crimes against the administration of justice — simulating crimes, false testimony, collusion, concealment, etc. * Crimes against public order — conspiracy to commit crime; incitement to crime; manufacture and carrying of weapons, etc. * Forgery — false currency; forged seals, fiscal stamps, documents, passports, licenses, etc. * Crimes against public and private interests — arson, causing floods, etc. gainst public health and nutrition * Crimes against public morals and the family — rape, seduction, prostitution, corrupting minors, adultery, bigamy, etc. * Crimes against persons — homicide, battery, abortion, abandoning children, slander, etc. * Crimes against property — theft, robbery, extortion, kidnapping, fraud, etc. (Birkbeck, Christopher) Until 1998, the age of criminal responsibility was 18. In that year, a new Children’s Code (Venezuela, 1998c) established criminal responsibility for adolescents (ages 12 to 17).
However, the adolescent criminal justice system is administratively separate from the adult criminal justice system. Adolescents who turn 18 during adjudication or sentencing continue under the adolescent justice system. (Birkbeck) Police Denmark The state police is a department of the Ministry of Justice. There is no longer a municipal police and the military police only has authority over soldiers according to the Military Criminal Code. Denmark is divided into 54 police districts (excluding the Faeroe Islands and Greenland), each headed by a local chief of police.
The National Commissioner reports to the Minister of Justice. For administrative purposes the police are subdivided into plain-clothes criminal investigators, uniformed patrolmen, traffic police officers, immigration police, and other categories. (Ravn) The common police of Denmark consist of 12 districts each managed by a director and two minor districts in Greenland and the Faroe Islands, run by a chief of police. The mission statement of the Danish police is as follows: The police must work in order to ensure security, safety, peace and order in the society.
The police must promote this purpose through preventive, helping and enforcing work. In addition to the regular districts, there are three other organizations that work outside the common police. Rigspolitiet is the state national police for Denmark. Politiets Efterretningstjeneste, also called PET, is the national security intelligence agency of Denmark. The agency focuses solely upon domestic security while foreign intelligence operations are handled by Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste – an intelligence branch under the Danish military.
The stated overall purpose of PET is to prevent, investigate and counter operations and activities that pose or may pose a threat to the preservation of Denmark as a free, democratic and safe country. The three main duties of the PET are counter terrorism, counter extremism and counter espionage. Politiets Aktionsstyrke (AKS) is the Special Forces unit of the Danish police; a national SWAT team. It is meant to handle extraordinarily difficult or life-threatening criminal situations, such as terrorism, hostage situations, and kidnapping.
It also deals with emergency rescue situations that would be too dangerous for others to handle. The AKS holds responsibility for all anti-terror and counter-terrorism missions in Denmark. (Wikipedia) New recruits are required to be in good physical condition; good personal and economic condition, and should have achieved good grades in school. New recruits are usually required to be between 21 and 29 years of age, of Danish citizenship or have applied for Danish nationality/citizenship, and without any convictions. The basic training of police personnel takes 3 years.
The training comprises both school education and training of a more practical nature. School education, which consists of 2 courses of 8 months each, takes place at the Police Academy in Copenhagen. The rest of the training time is spent on the job. The Police Academy also presents special courses and leadership courses. All chiefs of police hold a master’s degree in law from a university. (Ravn) Venezuela The national Venezuelan police are the Cuerpo Tecnico de Policia Judicial, or PTJ. They were founded almost immediately after the overthrow of Dictator Marcos Perez Jiminez in 1958.
The PTJ is the primary judicial police force in the country, charged with the reception of crime reports made by citizens, the investigation of crimes, gathering of evidence and arrest of suspects. In all these tasks, the PTJ is subordinated to the public prosecutor’s office. Administratively, the PTJ is attached to the Ministry of the Interior and Justice. The national headquarters are in Caracas, and there is one office in each state capital, with additional offices in some other cities. The PTJ’s name was recently changed to the National Directorate of Criminal Investigation.
The traffic police (Cuerpo Tecnico de Vigilancia del Transito y Transporte Terrestre), administratively attached to the Ministry of Infrastructure, are responsible for surveillance, preliminary investigation and occasionally arresting suspects, in traffic offenses that involve violations of the criminal law. The state police are responsible for patrol work and public order, arrests (when offenders are caught in the act), and community service. They may also serve as auxiliary judicial police. Each force is regulated by a local Police Code.
To further complicate the institutional environment, state police forces are also coordinated by an office in the Ministry of the Interior and Justice that compiles selected statistics and sets guidelines for internal procedures. Beginning in 1990, wealthier municipalities in the country’s largest cities set up municipal police forces. By July 2001, there were 77 municipal forces in the country. They are attached to the mayors’ offices and regulated by the state’s Police Code and by municipal ordinance. With so many different uniformed police forces, there are obviously difficulties in coordination and efficiency.
For that reason, since at least 1977 there have been diverse proposals to create a unified national police force. The most recent is the National Police Law, which is currently being debated in the National Assembly. This law would join all uniformed police forces (state, Capital District, municipal), together with the traffic police, into one national force. (Birkbeck) Courts Denmark The independent courts constitute a part of the division of power in Denmark. Generally speaking, cases are dealt with in the first instance by a local or city court; appeals against the judgments of city courts are made to one of the country’s two High Courts.
A few big cases and cases touching on administrative matters are dealt with by one of the high courts in the first instance. The highest court in Denmark is the Supreme Court, and the Queen appoints judges. (Ministry) The Danish Supreme Court is the highest civil and criminal court responsible for the administration of justice in Denmark. The Kingdom of Denmark, consisting of Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands, does not have a single unified judicial system – Denmark has one system, Greenland another and the Faroe Island a third. However, ecisions by the highest courts in Greenland and the Faroe Islands may be appealed to the Danish High Courts. Venezuela Venezuela has three types of main courts: Trial courts: The 395 trial courts are divided into first instance trial courts and instructional criminal courts. In addition, 667 departmental and municipal courts are assigned the lowest level cases. Superior Courts: There are 173 Superior courts that primarily act as intermediate appellate courts. The dispersion of these courts throughout the country is based on population and political needs.
Supreme Court: The Supreme Court is the court of last resort. It is composed of 15 justices who each serve a nine-year term. This Court is divided into three chambers: civil, criminal, and civil rights. (Salas, Luis) They also have several types of special courts: Military Courts: Military courts exercise a considerable amount of authority since their jurisdiction extends to all crimes committed by members of the armed forces and on-duty police officers. Many persons have criticized this system, viewing it as a barrier to the successful prosecution of human rights abuses committed by the police and military.
Military courts extend their jurisdiction to civilians accused of crimes under the military code, for example treason or subversion. Anti-corruption Court: The anti-corruption court (Tribunal de Salvaguardia Del Patrimonio Publico) was established with specific and sometimes extraordinary powers, to investigate and punish corruption. While corruption cases may be tried in the first instance by the traditional court system, these special courts have second instance jurisdiction. They also serve as trial courts for cases involving corruption by high-level officials.
Even though their jurisdictional powers are extensive, they have been afforded meager resources to carry out their responsibilities. Family/Juvenile Courts: Another set of courts handle family matters and juvenile cases. Juveniles are processed through special courts and then remanded to juvenile correctional facilities. (Salas) Corrections Denmark In Denmark, the correctional service controls 15 prisons, one institution for inmates needing psychiatric treatment, and 40 local jails.
Five of the prisons and the psychiatric institution are closed in that they are secured by an external ring wall as well as by internal precautions like secured buildings, and electronic security systems combined with relatively dense staffing. The staff does not carry arms. Being used as remand detention institutions, the local jails are also closed. The remaining nine prisons are open institutions which actually means that the inmates are physically able to leave the institution. Two of the closed prisons have both male and female inmates. In one of these prisons there is cohabitation between men and women within units.
There are also two open prison departments for women. While serving his sentence the inmate is obliged to work for which he is paid a small hourly salary. The prison administration tries to ensure that the working places equate those found in modern society. In order to encourage inmates to educate themselves the same amount is paid to inmates who choose to go to the prison school instead of going to work. The prison provides health care and necessary dental care. Sick inmates will be hospitalized in ordinary hospitals. The policies of the correctional service are governed by the following three principles: A.
Normalization. As a starting point the inmate is placed in the open prison closest to his home in order to preserve family contacts and to pave the way for a gradual release from the prison. There must be specific reasons for instituting control of inmates’ correspondence. Visits by next-of-kin take place in secluded visiting rooms with a couch. In the open prisons weekend leaves are granted every third week to prisoners with a low risk of recidivism. A prisoner in a closed institution may obtain similar rights to weekend leave when he has served one fourth of his sentence.
At some time during incarceration about one third of the prisoners in closed prisons are granted occasional leaves. The total number of leaves per year is about 57,000. More than half of these are so-called work leaves where an inmate leaves the prison to go to work or to take part in educational activities in society. B. Self-administration. The inmate is responsible for his own daily life. Important elements of this approach are that food must be bought and cooked by the inmate to which end he is paid a fixed amount of money per day.
The inmate is also responsible for his personal hygiene, clothes’ laundry and repair. The prison encourages the inmates to make meaningful use of leisure hours by providing opportunity for sports and other structuralized activities. C. Release on parole and after-care. According to a provision of the Criminal Code more than 90% of the inmates are released on parole after having served two thirds of their sentences. Almost 10% of these will be released after serving between one half and two thirds of the time, due to special grounds. Royal pardon is possible according to the Constitution, but rare.
Outside of imprisonment for life which necessitates the use of pardoning, royal pardon is more commonly used in connection with short-term sentences where the convicted cannot endure the prison stay because of severe illness or the like. In such cases the pardon is normally conditioned on the payment of a fine. (Dr. Winslow, Robert) Venezuela Typical penalties in Venezuela include fines, restitution, probation, and incarceration. Some crimes carry mandatory prison sentences which prohibit early release. The death penalty in Venezuela was abolished in the mid 1860s.
The prison population in Venezuela is 40% over its stated capacity. Overcrowding is regarded as a primary factor in the high level of violence within prisons, which resulted in an average of 3 prisoner deaths per week in 1992. Venezuela, like many of its Latin American countries, has incorporated the United Nation’s “Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners” in its national legislation. However, a recent human rights director of the Venezuelan Attorney General’s Office has criticized the conditions of the nation’s prisons.
As a consequence of government neglect, the prisoners live in overcrowded and unhealthy quarters, without access to education, and lacking incentives to seek jobs once they are released. (Salas) References Birkbeck, Christopher Venezuela World Fact Book of Criminal Justice Systems http://www. ojp. usdoj. gov/bjs/pub/ascii/wfcjsvz. txt CIA: World Fact Book https://www. cia. gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/da. html Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela In the United States of America http://www. embavenezus. org/? pagina=kids. venezuela/political. system. tm=Venezuela%20for%20Kids Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark http://www. ambmoskva. um. dk/en/menu/InfoDenmark/danish+political+and+social+affairs/ Ravn, Lene Denmark World Fact Book of Criminal Justice Systems http://www. ojp. usdoj. gov/bjs/pub/ascii/wfbcjden. txt Salas, Luis Florida International University Venezuela World Fact Book of Criminal Justice http://www. ojp. usdoj. gov/bjs/pub/ascii/wfbcjven. txt Visit Denmark http://www. visitdenmark. com/uk/en-gb/menu/turist/turistinformation/fakta-az/ Wikipedia www. en. wikipedia. org Dr. Winslow, Robert San Diego State University Crime and Society

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