Last week, the Government announced a White Paper on Electronic Monitoring reform, which seeks to establish a more modernised legal and corrective system. TheJournal.mt analysed the proposals and summed up seven reasons why electronic monitoring is the way forward.
- It moves us towards a modern corrective system
The proposed legislation on electronic monitoring will be a first of its kind for the country and if implemented, will create a modern corrective system that not only ensures social justice but above all provides maximum protection for victims of crime and society at large.
- It reduces repeat offences
Electronic tagging will be used as an alternative means of punishment for effective jail term inflicted by the Courts, relating to offences of minor nature. The use of non-custodial sanctions and measures, as opposed to effective detention by, taking into consideration the individual circumstances of the case, will have several advantages. This has been supported by a long-standing tradition of research. Using this alternative method has several benefits, as it has been proven that a non-custodial sentence for minor offences resulted in the reduction of reoffending thus directly investing into public security.
- It proved effective in other countries
The proposed Bill is backed up by results achieved in other countries. In 2019, the Council of Europe encouraged Member States to provide and improve the supervision of non-custodial sanctions. Research studies shown that, in Europe 39,000 individuals benefited from electronic monitoring while in North America 231,000 people benefited from such alternative solution to detention. Electronic Monitoring is used extensively, for diverse purposes and in different ways across 5 European countries namely; Belgium, England and Wales, Germany, Scotland and The Netherlands.
- It will be used for minor offences
The proposed bill as drafted by the Ministry for Home Affairs provides that an electronic monitoring order can be considered in terms of effective prison terms not exceeding one year, and provided that the committed offence is not subject to more than two years of imprisonment.
- It facilitates reintegration of prisoners into society
Electronic monitoring can also be issued in conjunction with the Prison Leave Regulations, together with Regulations stipulated in the Parole Board, as provided for in the Restorative Justice Act. This will facilitate the integration of prisoners back into society as they would be able to get acquainted with life on the outside prior to finishing their sentence, which gives them a better chance at getting back on their feet.
- It will not be used for sensitive cases
When discussing Electronic monitoring one must keep in mind that serious offences require appropriate responses, and detention is a necessary instrument in criminal sanctions systems. For this reason, it is to be noted that electronic monitoring will not be allowed in cases of utmost sensitivity. Electronic monitoring will not be applicable to offenses relating to domestic violence, gender-based violence, in cases of paedophilia, maintenance obligations, and in situations where a court order or contract for access to children has not been kept.
- It allows people to work or study while serving sentence
Besides the safety of the community and the spirit of reintegration, the law being proposed by the Government is laying down detailed regulations for the efficient and accounting operation of the electronic monitoring system. The proposed system will also give the opportunity to individuals to keep their respective jobs, or to continue following a training course in an educational institution, among many other aspects as set out in the schedule of the proposed bill.