Denmark to outlaw new romantic relationships for prisoners serving life sentences

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Denmark officials are seeking to prevent prisoners serving life sentences from starting new romantic relationships by limiting their contact with the outside world to individuals they already know. 

A bill unveiled this week would apply to any communications via letter, phone or internet, and will prevent long-term prisoners from openly posting about their convictions on social media or discussing them on podcasts, according to The Guardian

The law comes in the wake of news last year that a 17-year-old girl fell in love with Peter Madsen, who was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of journalist Kim Wall in August 2017. 

Prosecutors had said that Madsen killed Wall after she boarded his homemade submarine to interview him, before he eventually dismembered her body and dumped it at sea. 

While Madsen initially denied killing the journalist, arguing that her death was an accident, he later confessed to the killing during an interview for a Danish documentary in 2020. 

The BBC reported that Cammilla Kürstein admitted to developing strong feelings for Madsen after exchanging letters and talking on the phone with him over a two-year period starting when she was 17 years old. 

Kürstein told Danish broadcaster DK in an interview last year that she was “absolutely in love with him.” 

Despite their romantic relationship, Madsen while in prison eventually married a 39-year-old Russian artist living in self-imposed exile in Finland named Jenny Curpen. 

Denmark Justice Minister Nick Haekkerup said in a statement this week that romantic relationships with long-term prisoners “must obviously be stopped,” arguing that individuals convicted of serious crimes “should not be able to use our prisons as dating centers or media platforms to brag about their crimes.” 

“In recent years, we have seen distasteful examples of inmates who have committed bestial crimes being contacted by very young people to gain their sympathy and attention,” he said, according to The Associated Press

“Of course, we have to stop that,” he added. 

Denmark’s center-right opposition party has announced support for the proposal, which, if passed, would officially take effect on Jan. 1, 2022, the AP reported. 

Prisoners sentenced to life in prison usually only remain behind bars for an average of 17 years, though judicial officials must approve requests for release and an inmate can be kept longer if it is determined that they continue to pose a danger to society.

Tags BBC Denmark murder conviction The Associated Press The Guardian

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