Community service — an alternative punishment

Doing community service by spreading gravel with rakes and shovels and other hand tools on pathways.(Photo: Envato Elements)
AMMAN — Ministry of Justice figures show that in 2021, 356 cases of minor misdemeanor were meted out a different kind of punishment, with offenders ordered to perform community service; 277 similar cases were still awaiting courts’ judgments that same year.اضافة اعلان

Such punishment was made possible by the amendments to the Penal Code of 2017.

Ministry of Justice Spokesman Nizar Kharabsheh told Jordan News that community service spares an offender prison time, and thus deprivation of freedom, addresses the issue of prison and rehabilitation centers overcrowding, and eases the financial burden on the government.

One of the most important positive effects is the fact that the convict does not need to stop working, and can thus still earn money, which is a great improvement over imprisonment, which “constitutes an economic burden on the family”.

Kharabsheh said that when ruling in a case of felony or misdemeanor is imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year, the court may decide to suspend the prison term “if the morals of the convicted person, his past, his age, or the circumstances in which the crime was committed show that the person will not break the law again.”

The decision has been positively received by lawyers, especially in light of the negative economic and social situation Jordanians have been facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Advocate Hassan Al-Hattab, the International Committee for Human Rights Geneva envoy to Jordan, told Jordan News that these penalties are deterrent, but at the same time do not lead to the spread of crime and addiction; “a person may be imprisoned for a simple crime, but he learns in prison bad things that lead him to be a professional criminal”.

He added that community service is used in many countries and that it usually helps form a “respectable and qualified person who learns from his mistakes and does not repeat them again”.

According to him, community service is more effective than imprisonment.

Advocate Faisal Khuzaie told Jordan News that community service obliges a convict “to do an unpaid work to serve the community for a period of no less than 40 hours and not more than 200. Such punishment improves an individual’s personality and encourages him to be a better individual and support his community.”

Khuzaie said that the aim of any punishment is to work as a deterrent, so that a person does not break the law again, but that some deserve a second chance.

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