Convict tags ‘need more time’

March 27, 2013

Inmates who are eligible for early release under an electronic monitoring programme will have to wait until the scheme has been launched properly, Justice Minister Pracha Promnok says.

The Justice Ministry has yet to establish guidelines and criteria for the electronic monitoring of offenders as an alternative to imprisonment, he said yesterday.

A law which allows inmates who meet certain requirements to serve the rest of their terms outside prison has taken effect.

Released inmates would wear electronic tagging devices to allow authorities to monitor them. However, officials still have to address certain concerns before the electronic monitoring programme can be implemented, Pol Gen Pracha said.

Some people were concerned the programme will cover drug offenders or convicts who committed serious crimes.

He insisted the issue will be widely discussed before a decision is made.

Pol Gen Pracha dismissed criticism the programme was designed to accommodate political offenders.

Offenders eligible for the programme include those who may die if they remain imprisoned; those who need to take care of family members; those suffering from chronic illness and who require continuous medical treatment; and those who have grounds for a reduced punishment such as childbirth or a mental disorder, Pol Gen Pracha said.

Requests for early release under the electronic monitoring system will be decided by the courts, he said.

It will also lessen overcrowding in prisons, Pol Gen Pracha said. The 143 prisons nationwide are holding 260,000 prisoners. However the prison system is meant to accommodate 190,000 inmates.

Pol Gen Pracha said it is not known how much the programme will cost.

Charnchao Chaiyanukij, deputy justice permanent secretary, said the programme will apply only to offenders who have served at least one-third of their terms. “If they don’t meet this condition, forget it,” he said.

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