This collective pardon was announced by the Senate Department for Justice in response to an inquiry. Most of the inmates in question had previously served time at the Plötzensee correctional facility. According to the Senate Department, 71 men there met the conditions for early release, along with 34 men in the Heidering correctional facility. The deciding factors were the good behavior of the inmates and the fact that they would have been released anyway between the end of October and the beginning of January 2023.
Pardon before Christmas: About 160 inmates granted early release
Around six weeks before Christmas Eve, more than 160 offenders in Berlin have already been granted an early release from prison thanks to the so-called Christmas Amnesty.
Early reintegration into society
"Past experiences have shown that the search for apartments and jobs is particularly difficult during the Christmas season and at the turn of the year, which is why the state of Berlin begins granting clemency to inmates at the end of October," explained Senator for Justice Lena Kreck (Left Party). With the early release, the state grants suitable inmates an early reintegration into society.
141 inmates released early in 2021
According to a spokesman for the judiciary, most of the inmates released early were in prison for theft (57 cases) or assault (20). In 18 cases, the offenders were convicted of fraudulent use of services, most of which involved fare evasion. Last year, 141 prisoners in Berlin benefited from the decision, according to the Justice Department. Changes are still possible in the planned number for the current year but they will probably be minor, the spokesman said.
Christmas Amnesty is tradition in many federal states
Prisoners in most other German states are also being released early thanks to the Christmas Amnesty program. Last year, around 800 offenders nationwide were allowed to leave prison early by mid-December. However, the state offer Bavaria never grants any pardons at the end of the year as a matter of principle. In Berlin, as of 2017, the period for early release already applies from October.