Reforms of the Criminal Sanctions System in Germany ? Achievements and Unresolved Problems

Author:Frieder Dünkel
Frieder Dünkel
Professor emeritus, dr. jur.
University of Greifswald
Reforms of the Criminal
Sanctions System
in Germany –
Achievements and Unresolved Problems*1
1. Preliminary remarks
Jaan Sootak is celebrating his 70th birthday, and I am happy to o er him my cordial congratulations at this
birthday ceremony personally. We rst met in the late 1980s, when I organised a conference on comparing
prison systems worldwide.*2 While primarily a penal lawyer, he has remained in our network of co-opera-
tion in penology and youth justice for 30 years.*3 His achievements as a penal law reformer in Estonia are
considerable, and he has always maintained a connection with German penal law jurisprudence as well as
practice. I have therefore chosen as my subject the reform of criminal law sanctions in Germany. It was 17
years ago that I presented a paper at the law reform conference here in Tartu on the same issue, and I have
to admit that the reform debate surrounding the criminal sanctions system in Germany continues to focus
on the same problems as at the beginning of the century, and that no real will for change is visible. However,
many aspects of the sanctioning practice could be seen as successes, and sometimes standstill might in fact
be progress, when ideas are refused that would worsen the penal law system. I will come back to that when
talking about electronic monitoring.
The present paper deals with some of the recent debates on reform of the German criminal sanctions system, which are more
comprehensively summarised in the research of Nicholas Mohr presented in his Ph.D. thesis; see Mohr, Die Entwicklung
des Sanktionenrechts im deutschen Strafrecht – Bestandsaufnahme und Reformvorschläge, .
See the rst results in van Zyl Smit/Dünkel, Eds., Imprisonment Today and Tomorrow – International Perspectives on
Prisoners' Rights and Prison Conditions, nd ed.,  (st ed., ), with a chapter on Estonia by Jaan Sootak, Rando
Antsmäe, and Olavi Israel ().
See, for example, his contributions on Estonia in Dünkel/Lappi-Seppälä/Morgenstern/van Zyl Smit, Eds., Kriminalität,
Kriminalpolitik, strafrechtliche Sanktionspraxis und Gefangenenraten im europäischen Vergleich,  (together with Anna
Markina, ) and in Dünkel/Grzywa//Hors eld/Pruin, Eds., Juvenile Justice Systems in Europe: Current Situation
and Reform Developments, nd ed.,  (together with Jaan Ginter, ). – DOI:./

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