The ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party is preparing to present a new penal code in Parliament that eliminates the much-criticized minimum sentences for several crimes. Drafted by the Justice Ministry, the new amendments seek to abolish a law whereby those sentenced to less than two years in prison don't often spend time in prison. The amendments would pave the way for the convicted to serve their time - even if it is for one day.
Under current laws, an individual sentenced to a prison term less than two years can walk free without serving time. Critics of the current law say this contributes to an increase in crime rates. Minor thefts, for instance, are mostly sentenced to three years and convicts only serve two years, or one year, in a regular prison and another year in "open" prisons where they are allowed to take weekly leaves. Open prisons with minimum security are mainly populated by those convicted of cases of bodily injury, fraud, property damage and similar crimes.
The new amendments would change the terms for those in open prisons benefiting from minimum sentences and increase prison terms for people convicted of more serious offenses, such as murder, sexual abuse and drug smuggling.