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Launch of the report ‘Electronic Monitoring System – Current State and Future Challenges’

The current model of electronic monitoring system (“EMS”) is not optimal, says last week’s report by the HFHR, ‘Electronic Monitoring System – Current State and Future Challenges’.

The new monitoring system was launched in 2009. “Introduction of the electronic monitoring system as an alternative method of executing custodial sentences is considered one of the key reforms of the contemporary Polish justice system”, notes Artur Pietryka, coordinator of the Monitoring of the Legislative Process in Justice System programme.

The electronic monitoring may be used in cases of offenders sentenced to a short-term prison term of maximum twelve months. There are several criteria to be met before this arrangement can be applied. For instance, the offender needs to have a permanent residence and all the adults living in a common household with the offender must consent to the monitoring.

As of the end of February 2012, 2,835 convicts were subjected to the monitoring order. In total, the system was applied to 5,284 people. According to the Central Prison Service Authority, the prison occupancy rate, as of 30 March 2012, was 100.5 per cent, increasing weekly by 0.2-0.3 per cent on average.

The report featured a number of interviews with judges of penitentiary courts who issue electronic monitoring orders. Moreover, the authors reviewed over 100 cases from seven Circuit Courts. The study revealed numerous practical differences associated with the application of the Electronic Monitoring Act. The differences may lead to an inconsistent jurisprudence.

A more common use of the electronic monitoring is also prevented by the low public awareness of this measure. According to the report, prison governors and professional probation officers seldom apply for electronic monitoring orders.

“Some of our interviewees revealed that sometimes prison governors apply for monitoring orders only to improve statistics”, says Katarzyna Wiśniewska, co-author of the report. Applications are made in cases of offenders who don’t qualify for the scheme”, she adds.

The Electronic Monitoring Act will expire on 31 August 2014. Authors of the report warn that work on a new law should be commenced right now.

“The new law has to be carefully drafted and based on experiences of the current practice of the EMS”, says Artur Pietryka.

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