Probation Oversight: What is it, who will be punished, and should we be afraid? (Link to the film)
November 10, 2023.
In Ukraine, a new form of punishment, probation oversight, will be introduced as early as March 2024. Although the corresponding law was passed at the end of August, it is currently stirring up the informational space. Analysts from the Center for Joint Action explain what probation oversight is, who will be subject to it, and whether this innovation should be feared.
Probation oversight is a form of punishment that does not involve isolation from society. Instead, individuals will be under the supervision of a specialized body for a period ranging from one to five years. They will be required to fulfill specific obligations determined by the court.
In the media space, probation oversight is often contrasted with imprisonment. This is not entirely accurate, as in certain cases, this form of punishment may be imposed instead of arrest or restriction of liberty.
For example, under Article 130 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, infecting a person with HIV or another infectious disease is currently punishable by three months of arrest, up to five years of restricted liberty, or up to three years of imprisonment. After three months of arrest, the individual returns to society without any supervision.
When the law takes effect, probation oversight can be imposed for up to five years for such a crime, along with up to five years of restricted liberty or up to three years of imprisonment. The court may require the convicted person to regularly report to the probation office, undergo treatment, and notify of changes in residence.
If the convicted person fails to fulfill these obligations, a preventive conversation will be held, followed by a written warning. If they continue to systematically ignore their obligations, they may face up to three years of restricted liberty.
Probation oversight may also be imposed for intentional minor bodily harm, assault, domestic violence, death threats, forced donation, violation of political party funding, evasion of alimony payment, non-payment of wages, theft, and certain other crimes. Of course, the judge must be confident that the punishment is sufficient and effective for the rehabilitation of the individual.
At the end of 2022, the Verkhovna Rada approved the Penitentiary System Reform Strategy, with one of its strategic goals being the expansion of the use of punishment that allows individuals to avoid isolation from society. This approach ensures the effectiveness of the punishment through its irreversibility rather than severity.
According to the Center for Joint Action, probation oversight is a highly sensitive issue, and therefore, the law may seem somewhat intimidating. As a result, a considerable amount of misinformation and misinterpretations has emerged around the decision. In reality, analysts believe that this decision humanizes Ukrainian legislation and brings it closer to European standards. Thanks to this law, individuals who have committed minor offenses will have more opportunities for rehabilitation and to remain an integrated part of society—or become one.
You can watch our film on the probation experience in Europe here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXZRfWfines