Ministers want swift jail for probation violators

23rd June 2009, Comments 0 comments

Proposed bill would enable Public Prosecutor's Office to instantly lock up probation violators.

A new bill contains measures that would enable the Dutch Public Prosecutor's Office to instantly lock up felons who violate conditions of probation. Details of the bill put forward by Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin and Deputy Justice Minister Nebahat Albayrak were released on Monday.

Convicted felons often receive a short prison sentence followed by a period of probation. The bill relates to conditions attached to probation, such as restrictions on an offender’s freedom of movement or bans on alcohol consumption. Offenders may also be ordered to undergo compulsory behavioural therapy or be obliged to report to the authorities at regular intervals.

If offenders fail to keep to the conditions of their probation, the Public Prosecutor's Office currently has to request a court to convert their suspended sentence into a real prison sentence. Pending a court verdict, the offender remains free. Ministers Ballin and Albayrak see this situation as undesirable. It is important for the effectiveness and credibility of policy, they insist, that violations are dealt with without delay, and the new law would cut the chances of re-offending.

The bill is in line with the Dutch cabinet policy to cut crime and recidivism. The policy centres on changing individual behaviour to prevent re-offending. Many convicts are jailed for less than two months—too short a period to break the pattern of offending. A period of probation can reduce the chances of a convicted criminal re-offending. The application of strict, multiple restrictions on behaviour during an extended period of probation often makes the conditional period more severe than a short prison sentence.

Radio Netherlands / Expatica

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