Monitoring convicts released from prison easier
9. January 2007Amendments to the Imprisonment Act entered into force as of this year, changing the procedure for releasing imprisoned persons on parole.
According to the former procedure an imprisoned person had to write an application for being released from prison on parole themselves and the initial decision was made by the director of the prison. If the decision of the director of the prison was positive, the documents of the imprisoned person were sent to the court and the court made the final decision.
There were instances where the imprisoned person did not want to be subjected to probation supervision and did not file an application. This meant that after being released from prison no probation supervision could be exercised over them. According to the new procedure, the documents of an imprisoned person are, upon arrival of the deadline, automatically sent to the court and the court will decide if and when it is safe to release the imprisoned person.
If the court decides to release the person, the person shall, at least one year or for the remainder of the period of serving the sentence, remain under probation supervision.
According to Rait Kuuse, the Adviser of the Courts Department of the Ministry of Justice, the release on parole of approximately 1,000 imprisoned persons will need to be reviewed during the period of implementation of the amendments to the act. “Contrary to rumours and fears, this does not mean that the prison doors will be opened and all the thousand prisoners will be released,” emphasised Kuuse.
“Everything is the same way as before, with the only exception that instead of the director of the prison the decision of release on parole is made by the court," explained Kuuse. “Thus, the procedure for release on parole will become faster. When approx. 1/3 of the imprisoned persons were released on parole and the rest walked out of the gates of prison without any supervision, this proportion will change in the coming years. This will increase the safety of society.”
According to Rait Kuuse, the positive aspect of the new procedure for releasing on parole is that the state can now improve the supervision exercised over the imprisoned person. “For instance, if the criminal has 4 months left to stay in prison and they are released on parole, their probation supervision will continue for another year. Thus, in the given case the state supervision over a person increased by 8 months during which the behaviour of the imprisoned person and their management in society can be evaluated and, where necessary, the person can be helped.”
In addition to the aforementioned the amendments allow for release on parole in the case of subjection to electronic supervision. If the court considers it necessary to take additional measures of supervision, they can do so. In practice this mean direct daily supervision over a former imprisoned person. The probation officer will learn of the violation of the conditions of electronic surveillance many times sooner than is the case today.
However, the amendment of the procedure for being released on parole is only a minor part of solving the problems pertaining to imprisoned persons.