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On March 31, the RA government approved the legislative package on Probation, State Probation Service and respective amendments and additions in related laws.
As stipulated by law, the service will carry out supervision, guidance and support towards convicts or persons charged with a criminal offense aiming at his/her rehabilitation and social
integration, as well as to ensure the public security.
The service will work mainly with persons with regard to whom:
- an alternative preventive measure has been applied,
- a non-custodial sanction and a security measure has been imposed,
- the parole was applied and the sentence was suspended,
- an early conditional release and a parole was applied,
- their sentences were suspended or deferred,
- an advisory report should be provided,
According to the proposed Law on Probation, the main functions of the future Service are:
- The execution of pretrial restraining measures alternative to detention on remand during the criminal proceedings,
- Implementation of non-custodial sanctions and other compulsory measures applied by the court,
- The implementation of personal planning of non-custodial sanctions and pretrial restraining measures by assessing the risks and taking into account the needs of the beneficiary of the Probation Service
- Provision of advisory reports about a person on matters of suspension of the sentence, early conditional release, substitution of the sentence with a more lenient type of sentence, cancellation of criminal record
- Supervision of convicts on parole, supervision of persons granted early conditional release, supervision of pregnant women or persons taking care of a child under the age of three, supervision of persons exempted of a sentence or the persons which have had their sentence execution deferred.
Upon presenting the bill, the Minister of Justice Arpine Hovhannisyan noted that the legislative package had been debated at length, so, the earliest possible submission for the approval of the government will facilitate the fulfillment of international obligations. Therefore, she asked parliamentarians for an urgent approval.
However, despite the absence of legislative regulations, since June 2015 pilot offices of the Probation Service have been established in Yerevan and Vanadzor, with a workforce of about 20 specially trained employees. The training programs were conducted with support of the Norwegian Government and the Council of Europe. In fact, the Probation Service will operate on the basis of the Alternative Sanctions Enforcement Division under the Ministry of Justice of Armenia.
The creation of Probation Service will contribute to the reduction of reoffending and alleviate the burden weighing on the overcrowded penitentiaries, which is beneficial for the state and the society not only from social, but also financial aspects.