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MfD: House arrest does not work for Czech offenders

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Prague, Aug 5 (CTK) – Czech judges distrust the institute of house arrest and have strongly limited its use because a part of the prisoners do not abide by its rules, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) wrote on Friday.

While in 2012, 514 Czechs were under house arrest, the figure was more than halved by last year, MfD writes.

The house arrest was mainly introduced to alleviate overcrowded prisons and to ensure that the convicts do not lose jobs, thanks to which they could repay their fines, damages they caused and child maintenance, it adds.

In all, the house arrest sentence has been imposed on 1,575 Czechs since 2010.

In 2010, the punishment was meted out for 116 people and the figure surged to 514 by 2012, but then it started falling down to 211 last year, MfD writes.

“This is an administratively demanding punishment. The checking without electronic tags is a matter of chance of whether the convict will be caught or not,” judge Roman Sustr is quoted as saying.

He said at first he had delivered several verdicts involving house arrest, but he was no longer its advocate now.

If a convict comes up with the excuse that he was not at home because he had to help his ill mother on the other end of a town, this can be hardly refuted, Sustr said.

“It cannot be guaranteed that this sanction is exacted,” judge Miroslav Capek said.

“Random checks are not sufficient and the monitoring would have to last 24 hours a day,” Capek said.

“Or else, the convicts believe that the probation service will not come to inspect them. Such a punishment does not serve its purpose,” he added.

“After finishing their work, the convicts may go to a concert, freely roaming the world in the belief that they will avoid a check,” Capek said.

“Even a check performed five times a day is not the same as permanent supervision, which would be ideal and unbiased,” probation service officer Jan Odvorak is quoted as saying.

The service does not have enough staff to check the convicts round-o-clock, he added.

Besides, the checks of house arrests are just a fraction of their workload, MfD writes.

The number of the convicts who do not observe the house arrest rules has been over 40 from 2011 onwards.

The figures only plummeted in 2013 and 2014. The reason was neither obedience nor assiduity on the part of the prisoners, MfD writes.

“The figures for these years were strongly affected by the impact of former president Vaclav Klaus’s amnesty declared in January 2013 when all house arrest punishments were immediately ended,” Justice Ministry spokesman Jakub Riman has told the paper.

Judges are of the view that electronic tagging can resolve the problem. Instead of random checks, they would monitor the convicts permanently.

However, the state has put up the fourth tender for the delivery of ankle bracelets since all three previous ones were cancelled.

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