Ministry eyes state bail for poor inmates

September 25, 2014


The Justice Ministry plans to use money from the Justice Fund to seek bail for inmates remanded on petty charges to reduce prison overcrowding.

Deputy permanent secretary for justice Thawatchai Thaikhiew said the initiative, which is aimed at providing fairer justice and reducing prison populations, will be unveiled next week as part of commemorations to mark His Majesty the King’s 88th birthday on Dec 5.

He said the 120-million-baht fund will be used to secure bail for about 59,000 inmates facing minor charges such as gambling.

Most inmates are poor and cannot afford to put up bail so end up on remand in prisons. As a result, they are unable to work and take care of their families, Mr Thawatchai said.

The official said he would seek approval for the move from Justice Minister Paiboon Khumchaya and then write to Corrections Department chief Withaya Suriyawong, asking him to assess how many inmates would qualify to receive state-financed bail.

Not all inmates facing trial will qualify he said. They will be screened by the Corrections Department.

Apart from reducing prison overcrowding, the Justice Fund will help ensure inmates receive fair and proper treatment, Mr Thawatchai said.

If the fund can be used to secure the release of 10-20% of the country’s prison population, it will help enable wrongdoers to redeem themselves, he said.

About 70% of the prison population are incarcerated for drug-related offences. Most are drug users who were caught trading in small quantities.

Mr Thawatchai said he also wants to tap the fund to secure the release of detainees in juvenile detention centres to allow them to live with their families and rehabilitate themselves into society.

He said the bail scheme will be carried out in conjunction with a move to amend regulations allowing people involved in some legal cases to settle disputes out of court.

The Justice Ministry aims to forward these plans to the cabinet for consideration, he added.

Earlier this month Mr Witthaya said the country’s current prison population is 350,000. Prisons, however, only have capacity for about 200,000 inmates.

Mr Witthaya said the bail initiative will give poor and underprivileged offenders the opportunity to turn over a new leaf.

Help will go to those who have no money for bail but are detained during the pre-trial process, he said.

However, whether an inmate is granted bail depends on the court, which will determine if the detainee poses a flight risk or could intimidate witnesses, Mr Witthaya said.

Flawed government policies are partly to blame for prison overcrowding because some led to a rise in crime rates resulting in more offenders ending up in jail, he said.

Overcrowding has long been a problem the Corrections Department has tried to address, Mr Witthaya said.

Ongoing political instability since 2006 has resulted in criminal justice policies being overlooked, while no concerted effort has been made to handle the problems, he added.

The rising number of inmates has also seen an increase in the smuggling of prohibited items into prisons. Of particular concern to officials is the smuggling of mobile phones into correctional facilities that allow drug dealers to maintain contact with their networks and continue criminal activities behind bars.

In another attempt to tackle prison overcrowding, the Corrections Department earlier proposed amending regulations to allow for the early release of prisoners for good behaviour.

One Response to Ministry eyes state bail for poor inmates

  1. maurice byrne
    June 4, 2015 at 4:38 am

    I have got total admiration for thai authorities…educate young petty offenders and give them a chance in life…prove too the world this is the way forward…please keep going forwards…and show the world how it should be done….banging people up isn’t the way forward…the way forward is education education education…

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