Throughout my time in Sweden, I have been learning about the Swedish criminal justice system. I have learned about some of the differences between the US and Sweden as well as some things that may hinder Sweden. The following are things that I have learned through my class as well as talking to an expert on their opinion.
One thing that is an issue for Sweden is the EU laws which make it so that cell phone companies are not obligated to hand out information about people when the police ask for it. This hinders police investigations because if they had this ability, they would be able to track a suspect’s movements and read their text messages. However, because this is not mandatory, the police cannot rely on this.
Another issue is that there is not record for descriptions especially for ethnicity for when there is an interaction with the police (arrest, conviction, etc.) While this could be a good thing in some aspects, it is also a problem. Because there is no data on ethnicity, it makes it very difficult to determine if there is any biased against certain minorities. The lack of data means that there cannot be any corrections towards the attitudes of police officers as they would not know who is being targeted. This means that if the police are focusing on minorities, there would be not much data as their are no records to see if this is the case.
There is also the issue of immigration to Sweden. Hate crimes are a problem everywhere people go; however, xenophobic hate crimes are one of the biggest. With Sweden having such as large influx of immigrants, it creates problems. Especially because of those who believe that immigrants are the ones that are taking all the jobs and creating the most crime. They would also believe that they should not be helping pay to support them through the welfare the government gives to them in an attempt to help the poverty in the country.
Finally, the issue of the lack of predictive data in the police force. They are not heavily reliant on big data police, and thus, they are not able to use it to its full potential. They are stuck at a point where they can only react after the crime has already been committed instead of being able to predict and prevent crime before it can take place. If this were to change, the police would have the ability to reduce the crime rate by being able to have an idea of where a crime may occur.
After talking to an expert, they told us about the Swedish police force is trying to expand the diversity of the police officers that are on the force. The expert was Otto Petersson and he a consultant for the police force here. He stated how one out of ten people in Sweden were born in another country. By diversifying, it would help to make it so there’s less racial bias for those who commit a crime. Constructionist states that attitude of people are heavily dependent on what the social norms are at that given time period. Throughout people’s lives, the social norms that are put in place are not always beneficial to those who look different. This can be shown as the different forces is one’s life can affect how they behave later in life, such is shown in the dynamic theory. However, if the police force changed by having different minorities on the force, it would help people become more trusting to the police force and less likely to act out against them.
Some of the positive things that I like about Sweden is that there is a much higher willingness to report crimes. This is because in Sweden, all cases must go forward and be investigated. This does not happen in the United States often times due to victimization. This is clear as people can see it in the statistics of crimes that are reported in US vs Sweden, especially in cases of rape and/or assault.
Also, in the US, many times that criminal system is more focused on making sure that people are not allowed to escape, as the people in prison are deemed as people who should never get out. However, in Sweden, they are heavily focused on rehabilitation. This means that they are more focused on making sure that people are learning from their mistakes so that they do not commit crimes again. So, this means that people will get educational service, life and mental help, and other help from different programs.
These are some of my thoughts on the topic and I am excited to learn more in the future. I is always exciting to learn about new countries and how it compares to the US as there could be ideas that are much better than the ones we have back home.