Street racers to be electronically tagged from November

August 21, 2013


The use of electronic monitoring tags to keep track of offenders serving home detention will begin in November, and young daredevils on motorcycles roaming the streets and causing trouble are the first target.

The timetable was unveiled by Justice Minister Chaikasem Nitisiri on Wednesday. The scheme will later be expanded to other prison inmates if the trial on rascally dek waen proves successful.

Electronic monitoring tags fitted to offenders enable authorities to track their position through use of GPS technology and location verification units.

It is part of a plan to ease the massive overcrowding in prisons and juvenile homes across the country, and release selected inmates into home detention.

There are about 270,000 inmates in prisons across the country and the Corrections Department says the figure is rising by 3,000 a month and will easily surpass 300,000 next year. About 70% of the inmates are serving sentences for drug offences.

The Corrections Department has 188 prisons in Bangkok and the provinces with a capacity to accommodate only 211,000 inmates. The Juvenile Observation and Protection Department administers 78 youth detention centres. The number of the youths in the homes is unclear.

Mr Chaikasem said the tags would be ready for use by mid-November by the Juvenile Observation and Protection Department. They would be fitted to apprehended motorcycle street racers, youths who continually break traffic laws. If it proves successful, the scheme could be extended to another 6,000 prisoners held by the Corrections Department next year.

About 200 street racers were expected to “benefit” from the pilot scheme, he added.

The Justice Ministry issued a regulation on March 22 allowing the use of the tags on some prisoners who would be freed from jail early to serve out the rest of their sentences in home detention.

Corrections Department director-general Pol Col Suchart Wonganantachai said elderly prisoners, those suffering from chronic disease, inmates who were dying, and pregnant prisoners would be the next group considered for electronic tagging and release.

The Corrections Department also plans to improve conditions in 26 prisons and bring in new equipment, including more closed circuit cameras, to ease the workload on prison guards.

Each warder has to oversee 50 inmates in Thailand, while the international average is five.

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