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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: http://www.humanite.fr/2009-10-09_S...

by Anne Roy

Brice Hortefeux has ideas regarding repeat offenders.

Translated Saturday 10 October 2009, by Gene Zbikowski and reviewed by Henry Crapo

The legal system. The French minister of the interior wants to double the time sex offenders can be held in police custody.

One week after the arrest of Manuel da Cruz, a repeat offender who has admitted to murdering a woman jogger in Fontainebleau forest, the debate, begun by the right, continues on whether this is the moment to pass a new law. Sentenced for the rape of a 13-year-old girl in 2000, da Cruz was freed in 2007 after having served seven of the 11 years to which he had been sentenced. His period on probation ended in late 2008. This was enough for the government, with Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux leading the charge, to focus on the question of repeat offenders and sex crimes, while criticizing those judges who questioned this legislative escalation.

The minister of the Interior repeated his remarks yesterday, one week after his initial declarations: “You’ve got to understand the feelings of this family, which has seen one of its members murdered by a sex criminal who ought to have spent eleven years behind bars and who got out after seven years. I’m sticking to my guns, this dramatic event could and should have been prevented: I’m not motivated by a desire to intervene in judicial matters, just by a desire to be coherent in my respect for French citizens.” His solution: the extension to four days, instead of the present maximum of 48 hours, of the time a suspect can be held in police custody in a sex crime case. “No decision has been taken,” he nonetheless emphasized, arguing that it is a question of “an ongoing policy consideration.” In his populist fervor, the minister has also taken aim at conditions for parole and probation. “Questions have to be asked about reduced sentences and access to release on parole and probation for sex criminals,” he stated yesterday, stoking the debate begun by some victims associations who favor passage of a prison law.

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