Police in a southern Finnish town have admitted that they were not particularly concerned when a woman, found guilty of two brutal murders, escaped from a prison in the area.
Terhi Tervashonka failed to return to the open prison after a day of work at a park in Hameenlinna, southern Finland, two weeks ago, but has now been found in the nearby community of Palkane.
The 30 year-old was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in jail in 1999 for her involvement in the Hyvinkaa landfill killings, in which the victim was dismembered. Being a first-time offender, she was released in 2003, but was found guilty of killing a man with a billhook knife in 2008. As more than three years had pass since her parole, Tervashonka was considered a first time offender again under Finnish law, and therefore only has to serve half of her ten-year sentence.
Tervashonka failed to return to the minimum security prison, which she was moved to at the beginning of this year to serve the rest of her term, on 21st July. Tuula Asikainen, the director general of the Criminal Sanctions Agency, said the convict was allowed to transfer as she had behaved impeccably at the maximum security prison in Vanaja, explaining that incarceration is affected by conduct on the inside, rather than the nature of the crime.
“The so-called gradual release is the safest option for everyone,” Asikainen said in a Helsingin Sanomat report. “Naturally the prisoner needs to meet certain criteria in behaviour and sobriety, for instance, before transfer to a minimum security prison.”
Despite the violent nature of her crimes, Lieutenant Pekka Kiiski of Kanta-Hame police admitted that apprehending the murderer was not a high priority. “No matter how gruesome her criminal history may be, if behaviour in prison has been good, then there is no reason for this,” Kiiski said.
Asikainen added that the attempted escape will not affect Tervashonka’s parole. “Serving a prison sentence is determined in the law, and it cannot be evaluated on a case-by-case basis,” she told HS.