Electronic monitoring proposed as an alternative to prison

1. Electronic Monitoring
The Ministry of Justice has completed preparing the infrastructure and procedural instructions for implementing electronic monitoring bracelets as an alternative to incarceration. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
AMMAN — Amendments to the Penal Code published on the Legislation and Opinion Bureau website have introduced electronic monitoring as an alternative to prison sentences, Al Ghad News reported.اضافة اعلان

The proposed amendments included reducing the upper limit of community service hours served from 200 to 100 hours, to be implemented within a period of one year.

The amendments also stipulated community monitoring that obliges a convict to undergo a rehabilitation program as specified by the court with the aim of evaluating and improving behavior. The amendment also allows judges to choose one or more alternative penalties for each convict.

The amendment would also allow a judge to implement the penalty based on a social status report and periodic follow-up reports, and to replace any of the sentences passed with other alternative penalties from those stipulated, as well as reducing or increasing the sentence period.

As per proposed amendment to Article 25, if an offender fails to comply with the alternative penalty even after being informed of noncompliance, the judge may cancel the alternative sentence and resentence them to a custodial penalty, with time spent by the convict implementing the alternative penalty calculated at a rate of five hours for every day of imprisonment.

Regarding the proposed amendment, the projects director at the International Organization of Penal Reform, Mohammad Shabana, said that incarceration is not always the best solution for dealing with people accused of crimes and who have not been conclusively convicted, or for those convicted of crimes of a less serious nature who would benefit from alternatives to detention.

Non-custodial penalties that deprive convicts of their freedom have proven their effectiveness through implementation, including electronic monitoring, judicial oversight, behavioral modification programs, and through a community service order.

The Ministry of Justice has completed preparing the infrastructure and procedural instructions for implementing electronic monitoring bracelets as an alternative to incarceration.

The ministry worked with the International Organization of Criminal Reform on implementing a set of training workshops on using electronic bracelets, which it hopes will reduce the number of persons detained or held on remand.
He said there is no objection to reducing community service hours and using electronic control measures to monitor offenders as long as it yields the desired results.

Shabana said that what is required now is to expand the application of community service and judicial oversight sentences and to start implementing the electronic control measures, as well as expand the participation of state institutions in assisting the Ministry of Justice in optimizing the implementation of these amendments, and to gauge the extent of people’s response to reintegration and rehabilitation programs.

Legal advisor for Lawyers without Borders Moaz Al-Momani said that introducing alternatives non-custodial sentences, including electronic monitoring, are good steps, but stressed the need to clarifying the criteria for applying alternative penalties.

According to the law, the Department of Community Punishments at the Ministry of Justice is responsible for supervising the implementation of the penalties imposed in accordance with the provisions of the system.

To implement these penalties, the Justice Ministry has signed memoranda of understanding with several institutions, including the ministries of agriculture, awqaf, youth, and education, and the Greater Amman Municipality, taking into account people with disabilities, and providing alternatives commensurate with their specific needs.

The law defines community service in its current text as obligating the convicted offender to do unpaid work to serve the community for a period determined by the court, not less than 40 hours and not more than 200 hours, provided the work is carried out within a period not exceeding one year, and community monitoring is not less than six months and not more than three years.

The total number of non-custodial alternative rulings over the past three years up to the first quarter of this year came to about 500, according to figures issued by the Justice Ministry.

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