More foreign prisoners in Swedish jails

Never before has the proportion of foreign nationals serving time in Swedish prisons been so great as now, reports Swedish Radio News.

During the first half of 2013, around 4,500 people served sentences in a Swedish prison, according to prison system statistics. Of these, 35 percent are non-Swedish citizens. Swedish Radio News reports that the government is looking at ways for more people to serve their sentences in their home country.

The 35 percent figure is a record high and the government appointed a lawyer, Tobias Fälth, to head an investigation team to come up with a solution. He tells Swedish Radio News that there are several advantages for a prisoner to serve a sentence in his or her homeland.

"Above all, the possibilities of a transition back into society is best there. From the existance of family, future employment and a social network at large. The basic idea in this whole investigation has been that it should be about the social rehabilitation of a prisoner and that's when humanitarian reasons have to be in the forefront," he says.

However, Tobias Fälth admits that it is easier said than done to get prisoners to serve their time abroad. It is a time consuming process. Annually on average, 50 prisoners receive a transfer outside of the Nordic countries.

But the reports suggests several changes in the law to streamline transfers - and the reaction to referral efforts have been positive, according to Tobias Fälth.

In particular, the proposal for a transfer shall not be dealt with at the political level of the Justice Department, but at the local level of the authority of the courts.

"Therefore, we believe it is a fairly large fundamental principle that the government does not interfere in decisions about individuals. That there should be no political dimensions to this type of question," says Madelaine Seidlitz who is a lawyer at Amnesty.

However, the Courts Administration (Domstolsverket), which Swedish Radio News reports is positive to the proposals along with the Swedish Prison and Probation Service, says that it will need more resources if courts are given the authority outside of government interference.