The government supports the reform of the juvenile criminal responsibility planned by the MoJ

On Tuesday, June 25, the government supported amendments to the Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure Law by the Ministry of Justice, which aims to reduce the number of minors subject to the traditional system of criminal responsibility, namely to promote their re-socialization.

The reform of the juvenile criminal liability system is based on the principles of restorative justice. The objective of traditional criminal justice is to punish the guilty person, which is contrary to the interests of minors, even if they have committed a crime. Namely, they have to ensure protection of their interests, possibility to develop and become full members of society.

Accordingly, the Criminal Law will specifically emphasize that the primary purpose of juvenile offenders is the re-socialization of a minor, as it has been shown that the majority of juveniles, who mature and grow up as adults, cease offending behavior.

The reform will also introduce a new basic punishment measure - probation supervision. This measure of punishment will be the middle ground between forced labor and actual deprivation of liberty, as stated in the annotation.

Mikhail Papsujevich, head of the State Probation Service (SPS), explains that the planned reform will help the service work better with minors, including, if necessary, separating them from the environment, which could be a crime facilitator. Probation supervision as a measure of punishment will help the SPS to work with juvenile offenders, thus possibly deterring them from committing new offenses.

Papsujevich also noted that the new punishment will also apply to adult offenders, such as crimes related to the use of addictive substances and mild injuries.

For most minors, problematic behavior is transient, so punishment without resocialisation can potentially negatively affect the minor's identity and self-confidence, which is necessary for successful development.

The working methods used that do not involve resocialisation hinder healthy adolescent development, are usually poorly developed and poorly grounded and are financially expensive in the long run. The differences between adults and minors, as well as the rapid changes that occur during adolescence, are an essential basis for a wide range of behavioral problems and are the most important reason for choosing the most effective type of resocialisation for a particular juvenile.

Penalty and isolation without the possibility of re-socialization can have a detrimental effect on a young person's inclusion in the social environment. Insulation does not provide an opportunity to establish positive peer relationships, engaging in developing activities, restricting the acquisition of education and job opportunities. Thus, it is possible to promote humiliation, rejection, social alienation, stigmatization and instability throughout the life span.

Resocialization approaches emphasize that minors are the time in a person's life when there is the greatest chance of positive outcomes for behavioral change. In order to minimize negative isolation effects, such as possible contact with antisocial peers and exposure to negative influences, and to increase the chances of engaging in socially desirable activities and receiving positive family support or other support, individualized resocialization opportunities should be offered in the least restrictive and closed environments possible. in view of the risks, needs and safety of the minor concerned, the experts have concluded.

Currently, work with the child is only carried out when a child is sentenced to conditional imprisonment. However, it does not always achieve the aim of punishment - the re-socialization of a minor. Conversely, forced labor is the only form of punishment for a juvenile in society, but only rarely does it correspond to the child's problems, problems and needs. At the moment, there is a lack of punishment that would not isolate the child from society, but at the same time focus on the needs and problems of the child.

Consequently, the amendments provide that minors will no longer be able to impose a fine, as such a punishment does not facilitate the re-socialization of the minor, nor do they usually have a permanent income.

The amendment will also specifically define the content of a custodial sentence for juveniles, which has not been established so far, namely deprivation of liberty by a juvenile in an educational institution that incorporates the rules of social behavior correction and social behavior prescribed by the law regulating the enforcement of criminal penalties appropriate to the minor's age, individual psychological characteristics and level of development. a set of rehabilitation tools and behavioral rules. At present, juvenile boys are placed in the Cesis Educational Institution for minors, while minors are placed in Iļģuciema Prison.

The amendments also provide that juvenile offenders will always be subjected to probation supervision, thus ensuring that work on the minor is continued after serving the sentence. It is also envisaged that the imprisonment of minors will not be conditional - this would be done in order to apply the basic sentence - supervision of probation - instead of the conditional sentence, which is also included in the planned amendments to the law.

In order to avoid isolation of the child from society, but to promote resocialization and change of thinking, the amendments envisage that according to the harmfulness of the criminal offense the court could establish probation supervision as a basic punishment for the juvenile for a period of three years to six years. imprisonment for a term of more than five years and committing a particularly serious crime.

The amendments concerning minors provide for a special procedure for replacing probation supervision with deprivation of liberty in cases where supervision of probation is not performed. In such cases, the unpunished sentence is replaced by a custodial sentence, counting two probation days as one day of imprisonment, thus setting a more favorable penalty-to-adult replacement ratio. In this case, it is not an end in itself to disproportionately isolate the child from the community, because each such isolation can cause irreversible deformation in the minor's psyche, which in the long term does not improve the behavior of the child, but produces the exact opposite effect.

Similarly, amendments to minors provide for a special procedure for the replacement of public work in cases where it is not performed. Namely, unlike adult minors, public work will not be replaced by imprisonment, but by probation supervision, which is a lighter form of punishment and more effective in correcting the behavior of a minor, thereby introducing, including a step-by-step approach, when a child avoids punishment.

Amendments still need to be supported by the Saeima.

Source: LETA



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