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PRESENTATION TO CARIBBEAN REGIONAL CONFERENCE PROMOTING ALTERNATIVES TO CUSTODIAL PUNISHMENT Presented by Claire Blandin Chief Probation Officer Republic.

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Presentation on theme: "PRESENTATION TO CARIBBEAN REGIONAL CONFERENCE PROMOTING ALTERNATIVES TO CUSTODIAL PUNISHMENT Presented by Claire Blandin Chief Probation Officer Republic."— Presentation transcript:

1 PRESENTATION TO CARIBBEAN REGIONAL CONFERENCE PROMOTING ALTERNATIVES TO CUSTODIAL PUNISHMENT Presented by Claire Blandin Chief Probation Officer Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

2 PROBATION SERVICES Division Overview The Probation of Offenders Act Chapter 13:51 is the piece of Legislation that governs the operations of the Probation Services Division of the Ministry of Social Development

3 PROBATION SERVICES The Probation Unit Probation Services has been in effect since 1947 Prior to this period, Social Work was managed through Voluntary after-care services / interventions provided by Religious organizations

4 PROBATION SERVICES (contd) The Service was established to provide an alternative to imprisonment for young persons convicted of criminal offences Probation became the social arm of the Court, providing counselling and rehabilitation services for probationers, problem children, marital couples etc.

5 PROBATION SERVICES (contd) Judges and Magistrates use Probation as a sentence quite frequently Individuals can be placed on Probation for periods of one (1) to three (3) years. Currently the Probation Caseload is 325 persons, including Tobago

6 PROBATION SERVICES (contd) Persons placed on Probation are mainly between the ages of fourteen (14) and twenty five (25) years old.

7 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit Overview The Community Service Orders Act No. 19 of 1997 was implemented by the Probation Services Division in the year 2000.

8 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit As early as 1980 a Commission of Enquiry made recommendations that Community Services Orders to be introduced The Commission felt Community Service kept the family where it existed (together)

9 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit The Commission noted that the State did not have to be financially responsible for both offender and his or her dependents, which occurs when a custodial sentence is imposed. The Commission also saw Community Service as a medium through which the prison population could be reduced.

10 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit The Community Service Orders Act 1997, was passed in both Houses of Parliament in August 1997 and proclaimed on June 1, Only then was it seriously considered as a Court sanctioned alternative.

11 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit The main objective of a Community Service Order (CSO) requires an offender to perform unpaid work in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

12 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit Rationale for the Orders is to prevent further re-offending by re-integrating the offender into the Community by: Introducing positive and demanding unpaid work

13 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit Encouraging in the offenders a sense of personal responsibility and self- discipline. Ensuring reparation to the community by undertaking socially useful work, making good the damage done

14 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit Reducing the risk of recidivism or repeat offending Benefitting the community by providing labour or work which would otherwise be undone or costly.

15 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit The Legislative Framework The Community Service Orders Act 1997 allows for a non-custodial sentence to be imposed in situations where normally the penalty would be imprisonment for twelve months or less.

16 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit The Offender must be sixteen (16) years of age or over, convicted of an offence and may, with his/her consent, have their sentence of imprisonment suspended for up to two years

17 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit The Community Service to be completed may require the offender to perform between forty to two hundred and forty (40 – 240) hours of unpaid work in the service of his/her community wherever possible

18 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit The Court must be satisfied after consideration of a probation officers report, the offender and his circumstances, that he/she is a suitable candidate to perform work under the order and suitable arrangements can be made for the offender to do so.

19 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit Work performed under the Community Service Order should, as far as possible, be completed within the twelve (12) month period from the date of the order. The order will remain in force past that time, if the specified number of hours contained in the Order has not been performed.

20 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit For Breach of requirements of an Order the Court then has a range of options: i.to continue the Order and impose a fine ii.to continue the existing order and make an additional order

21 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit iii.Revoke the order and enforce the term of imprisonment previously suspended

22 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit Community Service is not applicable to certain types of offences. These offences listed in the schedule to the Act include murder, manslaughter, possession of arms and ammunition, shooting, robbery, any sexual offence, drug trafficking and kidnapping

23 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit The Act provides for variation or revoking of the Order by application by the Probation/Community Service Officer or the offender The Act also makes provisions for the imposition of Combination Orders which bring together the elements of a Probation Order and a Community Service Order.

24 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit On successful completion of community service, such a person is given the opportunity to apply to the Court to have his conviction nullified / expunged. In the case of a first time offender, the offender is given a new start, as if he/she never committed an offence.

25 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit Implementation An Ad-Hoc Committee was established and was given the responsibility to make recommendations for the successful implementation of the Act

26 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit The Committee presented a report which included inter alia: The establishment of an organizational structure A Public Education Strategy The upgrading of the Probation Services Division

27 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit The training of members of the Judiciary, Prosecuting Attorneys, non legally trained Police Prosecutors, staff of the Probation Services Division The mobilization of Non Governmental Organizations to perform the task of Receiving Agencies in partnership with Government

28 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit Regulations were drafted and sensitization efforts were initiated with: Workshops organized throughout the country for Non-Governmental Organizations and the public to which the media (electronic and print) was invited

29 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit A paper presented to Judges of the Supreme Court at the Judicial Education Workshop for High Court Judges The Court and Process arm of the Police Service given copies of the Act for discussion and to explain the plan of action for implementation

30 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit Magistrates individually approached with copies of all documents that would be used in the sentencing of offenders to Community Service, including a copy of the Act, for their comments and feedback

31 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit A television documentary on Community Service recorded for the viewing audience of Trinidad and Tobago by the Governments Information Division. Seminars and workshops were coordinated and continued for the public, Organizations and Agencies

32 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit Radio/talk shows were hosted Pamphlets were distributed Simultaneously, the staffing needs were addressed by Cabinet

33 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit Attitudes of Judiciary / Magistracy 1.Judges initially lobbied for the introduction of community service but the schedule of non-applicable offences immediately excludes them from utilizing community service orders as an option (Section 3(1) of Act.)

34 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit 2.Many Magistrates were of the opinion that the Community Service Act would not work. Some were of the belief that offenders should pay for their crimes and Community Service was a soft punishment.

35 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit 3.Those who bought into the concept went cautiously ahead, particularly those Magistrates who sat in suburban and rural areas. Less than one hundred Orders were made after the first year of the programme.

36 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit Our challenges: oNot all Magistrates accepted the presence or the reports of the Community Service Officers oSome Magistrates place offenders on Community Service From The Bench without the benefit of a probation report, once the offender consents.

37 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit oQuite recently, an offender was convicted on an indictable offence. The sentence was appealed and the offender was subsequently placed on Community Service. oMany of the Community Service Orders have been given for the Possession of Marijuana.

38 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit Recommendations oCommunity Service Orders be extended to have Offenders attend counselling sessions and/or drug rehabilitation programmes, once it is established that drug/alcohol use is the genesis of the presenting problem.

39 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit oProvision be made for the offenders to perform Community Service on weekends, once the offenders rights are not violated. oThe age for placing an offender on Community Service be reduced from sixteen (16) to fourteen (14) years.

40 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit Non Governmental / Receiving Agencies The primary arguments of NGOs, CBOs and FBOs were: They viewed the offenders as a threat to their security and as criminals They felt they should be given monetary incentives to accept these so called criminals

41 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit They questioned who would be responsible and or liable if an offender is injured while on active duty performing community service

42 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit Number of offenders on Community Service From January to September 2007 – 161 offenders - 26,225 hours ordered Between January and December 2006 – 180 offenders - 14,428 hours ordered

43 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit Number of offenders completed to date - approximately 185 Recidivism rate between 15 – 20%

44 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit Types of Work Performed by Clients Both in public and private sector Assisting in Preparing Meals for Senior Citizens Grooming Residents in Senior Citizens Homes Painting Labouring

45 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit Masonry Plumbing Training (Teaching) Reforestation Landscaping General Maintenance

46 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit Further Challenges: Attracting and maintaining staff Maintaining the interest of the NGOs, CBOs and FBOs. Enlisting new Agencies to accept the offenders Maintaining liaison with the Magistracy to encourage continued use of the Programme

47 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit OSHA Act – What happens/who is responsible if an offender is injured on the job? Who is responsible to provide safety equipment/protective gear for offenders? Having the Police Service acknowledge the nullification order as they remain on the books

48 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit Success Stories Offenders being offered employment at an Agency after successfully completing Community Service Order Offender beginning own business and being used as a Receiving Agency Offenders returning to tell of their own experience (no one cared about them)

49 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit New Horizons A Prison Reform and Transformation Implementation Unit has been set up to coordinate the recommendations made by a Cabinet Appointed Task Force with respect to further alternatives

50 PROBATION SERVICES The Community Service Orders Unit The report considered Community Corrections Restorative Justice Youth Justice Parole Attendance Centres etc.

51 Probation Services Division Ministry of Social Development THANK YOU

52 Probation Services Division Ministry of Social Development Questions ?


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