Prosecutors have asked a Norwegian court to sentence a 15-year-old girl to 10 years of the special form of custody that can keep her in prison indefinitely. Never before has such a relatively tough punishment been sought for such a young defendant in Norway, but it’s based on fears she will remain dangerous for the rest of her life.
The girl had a history of violence and was in the care of juvenile authorities when she attacked and murdered her 30-year-old therapist Anna Kristin Gillebo Backlund, who had arrived for a night shift last October at the care home where the defendant was living at Vollen in Asker, west of Oslo.
Court-appointed psychiatrists agree the young defendant was not psychotic at the time of the murder but has a personality ailment that is difficult to treat. There is little doubt, the court has been told, that society needs to be protected from her.
She would, however, become the youngest ever to be sentenced to the special custody known as forvaring, from which convicts can only be released by a judge at prescribed intervals. Prosecutors asked that she be kept in custody for at least six years before her first evaluation for release can arise.
Legal commentator Inge D Hanssen noted in newspaper Aftenposten late last week that children under the age of 18 can only be sentenced to such strict custody in cases with “extraordinary circumstances.” The Supreme Court may ultimately be asked to rule on whether such circumstances apply.