Extensive Implementation of Alternative Criminal Sanctions as a Necessity
Center for Democracy presented the project “Promotion of Alternative Criminal Sanctions and Measures of Restorative Justice”.
Person who is sentenced to prison is permanently labeled as a criminal, he/she is separated from the family and forced to quit schooling. Such a person most frequently loses the job and may be influenced by problematic inmates, which increases the chances to repeat the offense. These problems may be avoided with extensive implementation of alternative sanctions, as stated at the presentation of the project “Promotion of Alternative Criminal Sanctions and Measures of Restorative Justice”, realized by Center for Democracy Foundation in partnership with the Victimology Society of Serbia.
Accommodation, food and security expenses bared by the state are estimated at 15 million RSD, and by implementation of alternative sanctions this figure may be reduced by 1.000 to 5.000 RSD on daily basis, as said at the presentation in Media Center in Belgrade, whereas were also presented results and analyses of up-to-date researches made on this topic in the world and Serbia.
By implementation of these mechanisms, prison capacities are being alleviated, prisoners’ inclusion into society is faster, and by voluntary work they develop the conscience on the damaging effects of particular behavior and consequences of the committed felony.
Nataša Vučković from the Center for Democracy Foundation explained that alternative sanctions have to be strengthened primarily for the reason of prisoners’ human rights protection, and especially their privacy.
"It is necessary to introduce innovative types of sanctions for greater individualization of the sentence and within the prevention of criminal acts and return to criminal acting”, said Vučković, highlighting that this project also encourages the topic of restorative justice.
She emphasized that wide public support is a prerequisite for implementation of alternative sanctions.
"The comprehension of alternative sanctions must be changed. There is a noticeable fear among our politicians from promotion of these changes, considering they will be characterized as soft and indecisive in fight against the criminal”, stated Vučković.
According to her, harsh implementation of imprisonment we expose young people to negative influences and make their rehabilitation harder.
Vesna Nikolić Ristanović from Victimology Society of Serbia said that one of the goals of this project is to clarify the difference between restorative and repressive justice to expert public.
"Our objective is to broaden the circle of people who understand that penalty system should aim towards resolution of conflicts between victims and the offender, thus alleviating the return to the society for both groups", stated Vesna Nikolić Ristanović.
During last year, through implementation of the Law of Execution of non - custodial sanctions, number of sentences up to one year has reduced by 60%, and the number of detained persons from 30% to 18%, as demonstrated the analysis of the research.
Dušanka Garić, Manager of the Department for treatment and Alternative Sanctions within the Division for Execution of Criminal Sanctions, said that significant results in implementation of the alternative sanctions were achieved.
"Firstly, persons were sentenced on parole and community work, and more recently, the institute of house arrest is also put into practice", said Garić.
She stated that during 2013, 253 sentences were completed in public interest, which represented savings for national budget in the amount of EUR 96.800.
Manager of the Department for treatment and Alternative Sanctions reminded that the government of Serbia adopted the Strategy for Reduction of over Populated Penal Institutions 2010-2015 and an Action Plan including public interest work and serving the sentences in home detention.
According to her words, alternative criminal sanctions may significantly influence the offenders in the period after the sentence completion, as well as on the reduction of criminal offenses, since they are “most frequently repeated after six month from release”.
“By the end of the year, every higher court headquarters should acquire the office for alternative sanctions, so their number will increase from present 18 up to 25”, announced Dušanka Garić, who also stated that there are 958 alternative sanctions in progress.
It is planned that by the year 2020, which is the period encompassed by the Strategy of Development of the Penal System Sanctions Implementation, every town acquires such an office, thus forming the network throughout Serbia and enabling the implementation of alternative sanctions to a larger extent, said Garić.
Talking about the many advantages of this type of sanctions, she stated that their implementation is followed by savings in state budget, subsequently, through 253 public interest work sentences in 2013, several thousands of working hours were performed.
"If the employers had to employ workers for that day, they would have paid more than 12,7 million RSD, said Dušanka Garić, stating that the daily expenses is 15 EUR per day in prison.
Project “Promotion of Alternative Criminal Sanctions and Measures of Restorative Justice” implemented by Center for Democracy Foundation in partnership with Victimology Society of Serbia is supported by European Union through the Program “European Instruments for Democracy and Human Rights”.
Sources: Danas, Tanjug, FoNet, Media Center
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