Probation law to free 15,000 convicts

Probation law to free 15,000 convicts

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Probation law to free 15,000 convicts

Sadullah Ergin. AA photo

A new draft law may allow around 15,000 convicts to receive probation instead of having to serve time in jail if they comply with certain measures such as wearing ankle monitors or providing free public services.

“Conviction does not disappear with this provision. There are no reductions in penalties, no change in the duration of conditional releases and no amnesties of any kind. This, too, is a method of penal execution,” Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin told journalists March 6.

The legal provision allows convicts who satisfy certain criteria to serve the last year of their sentence under probation outside of prison, Ergin said, adding that the draft law was intended to make it easier for convicts to readapt to society.

If Parliament approves the draft law, the terms of probation will be extended from offenses that are punishable by up to three years of imprisonment to offenses that can lead to a maximum of five years in prison, according to daily Hürriyet.

“We are going to tell [the convicts in question] to [avoid] leaving their residences, to work for free at such institutions as schools and hospitals for three to five hours a day, or to follow specific probation programs,” Ergin said. Convicts who exhibit “good conduct” during part of their sentence, spend six months in an open penal institution or have less than a year left before their conditional release will be able to take advantage of the new provision, he added.

Meanwhile, the Justice Ministry has already initiated a pilot program in Ankara to employ ankle monitors in keeping seven convicts under surveillance, including a person who subjected his wife and children to violence and another man who used coercion against his mother.

Ankle monitors allow law enforcement officials to prevent convicts subject to restraining orders from approaching locations they are prohibited from entering.