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Home Arrest Will Be Available for Adult Convicts too

26.12.2017

 
Natia Gogolashvili 

“New form of punishment was introduced – home-arrest with electronic monitoring. The home-arrest will be imposed on the offenders, who committed less grave crimes. The monitoring will be carried out with special bracelet. At this stage, home-arrest will be used only for juvenile convicts. Based on the legislative amendments, which was drafted by the Ministry, this form of the punishment will be used for the grown-up convicts too,” the Ministry of Corrections informed the population about the innovation through video-roll.

The Parliament of Georgia discussed the bill on legislative amendments about the reform in the penitentiary system this year. According to the bill, the home-arrest for grown-up convicts will go in force from January 1, 2018. 

“On the one hand we will control the convicted people, and on the other hand we will allow them to stay with the family and serve the term. There are list of the crimes, which do not require custodial punishment. We should take care to control the criminal situation in the country and also tackle overcrowding in the prisons. The purpose of the bill is to promote integration of the convict with the society,” the Minister of Corrections Kakha Kakhishvili said.

Representatives of the Ministry state that in accordance to the amendments into the Criminal Code of Georgia (June 1, 2017 #944-IIs), new form of the non-custodial punishment will become available for the adult convicts – home-arrest, which may be applied as main and additional punishment forms. The home-arrest may be used with regard to a person without previous criminal record in length from six months up to two years. If the home arrest replaces imprisonment term, community service or fine, its length may be less than six months and more than two years. The home-arrest will not be imposed on the acting military servant and person, who committed domestic violence. Also, the local council of the Ministry of Corrections can change the remaining imprisonment term into a home-arrest for the convicted person upon his/her consent, who is not serving his/her term in the high risk prison if he/she factually served: at least one-third of the imprisonment term for the less grave crime; at least half of the imprisonment term for the grave crime; and at least two-third of the imprisonment term for the particularly grave crime.

In accordance to the Law of Georgia on the Enforcement of Non-Custodial Punishment and Probation, the home-arrest will be enforced by the bureaus for enforcement of non-custodial sentences and probation ('the Probation Bureaus'), which are territorial bodies of the National Agency for Enforcement of Non-custodial Sentences and Probation. 

“As a rule, the home-arrest is enforced by the means of electronic supervision, but where it is impossible to use the means of electronic supervision, the convicted person will be controlled by the probation officer without prior warnings, at least six times per month. Electronic supervision is carried out non-stop from the electronic supervision management center, 24 hours a day,” head of the law department of the Ministry Aleksandre Darakhvelidze clarified.

Aleksandre Darakhvelidze said in accordance to the Article 44(8) Paragraph 10 of the Law of Georgia on the Enforcement of Non-Custodial Punishment and Probation, a fee may be estimated in case of electronic supervision of the home-arrest, which will be transferred to the account of the Probation National Agency and will be spent on the implementation of its goals and fulfillment of the functions. In accordance to the same law, the procedures to enforce the home-arrest, conditions and fee for the electronic supervision, procedures of paying the fees for the electronic supervision and the conditions will be determined by the edict of the Minister of Corrections, which is currently processed and will go in force from January 1, 2018.

However, it should be noted that the juvenile convict and the convicted person, who is registered in the United Database of Socially Indigent Families and whose social-economic index is not higher than the threshold of getting the allowance as estimated by the Government of Georgia, will be freed from payment. 

Home-arrest, as alternative form of punishment, have been used with regard to juvenile convicts for several years. In accordance to the Juvenile Justice Code, home arrest went in force from September 1, 2015. Head of the Law Department of the Ministry Aleksandre Darakhvelidze believes the home arrest is effectively used with regard to juveniles and justified his statement with statistical data.

“From January 1, 2016 until now, 37 legal acts have been submitted for the enforcement and in 33 of them the punishment was executed through electronic supervision; in 4 cases the means of electronic supervision was not used but the officers paid visits to the families of convicts without prior warning. Because of the violation of the conditions estimated by the Georgian legislation, based on the reports of the territorial bodies – the probation bureaus, six cases of home-arrest were replaced by other forms of punishment. Based on this statistic data we can presume that home-arrest is effectively used with regard to juvenile convicts,” Aleksandre Darakhveladze said. 

Regional director of the Penalty Reform International in South Caucasus Tsira Tchanturia said enforcement of the home-arrest is a step forward to widen the spectrum of alternative, non-custodial punishments that will further promote reduction of imprisonment terms as means of punishment. However, like in the case of other punishments, its rehabilitation goals, support to re-socialization and combat of repeated crimes shall be taken into account. As Tsira Tchanturia said, past practice of using this form of punishment with juvenile convicts reveal that the forms of punishment shall be correctly selected and they must be proportional and adequate to the committed crimes. 

“The form how the home-arrest is introduced in our country is combination of several non-custodial punishments. For example, home-arrest/restriction of action, electronic monitoring and fine. At the same time, it is important that rehabilitation purpose of this punishment was not neglected. This punishment empowers self-control of the convict and assists him/her to execute the restrictions imposed by the court, however he/she needs some support and assistance from the probation service so that the needs of the convicted person were adequately responded. We appreciate that this form of punishment can be used in the moment the court imposes the charge on the person and also to replace the remaining part of the imprisonment term,” Tsira Tchanturia said. 

The practice of enforcing the home-arrest by means of electronic supervision shall meet the requirements of the recommendations CM/Rec (2014)4 of the Committee of Ministers of the CoE “About Electronic Monitoring”. 

The article was prepared in the frame of the project „Reducing Torture and Ill-treatment through Strengthening Preventive Monitoring Mechanisms in Armenia and Georgia” implemented by the Penal Reform International. 

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