The government is proposing the introduction of the electronic tagging of prisoners facing up to one year in prison, Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri announced today.
A white paper on electronic tagging, together with draft legislation for its implementation was launched for public consultation by the minister today. The consultation period ends on 25th May.
Addressing a press conference marking the launch of the consultation period, Camilleri emphasised that the proposal was intended to aid in the reform of those found guilty of committing crimes, while also ensuring the safety of the remainder of society.
The minister said the government was proposing the introduction of such a system in three specific instances, including instances when prisoners have been granted prison leave by prison authorities, as well as those where prisoners have been granted parole by the parole board.
Camilleri said that in both cases there was already a system in place for the granting of such privileges and these would remain unchanged. However, through the introduction of an electronic tagging system, prison authorities would be able to have increased peace of mind that the prisoner won’t breach any of the terms for his release from prison.
The system, he said, would also likely mean that these privileges are made available on more occasions.
The third scenario that could result in an individual being electronically tagged, rather than serving prison time, was by order of the court in the case of minor crimes, Camilleri said.
In fact, the courts will only be granted the discretion to order the electronic tagging of individuals who have been sentenced to a term of up to one year in prison, provided that the maximum sentence they would have been subjected to does not exceed two years.
The perpetrators of certain crimes, such as domestic violence and racially motivated violence, will not be eligible for electronic tagging under the proposed reform.
Those applying for bail would, for the time being, not be eligible for electronic tagging, though the minister did not exclude the broadening of eligibility criteria once the system is up and running.
Camilleri stressed that while the government believed that those guilty of crimes should pay their dues to society, it was also important not to undermine the change for reform for those who had made mistakes in life.
Crimes that will be eligible for electronic tagging include VAT crimes, including the failure to submit VAT returns, inflicting slight injuries, or driving without a license, Camilleri said to name a few.
Asked what proportion of the present prison population fell within the category that would have been eligible for electronic tagging, Camilleri said he was unable to give an exact figure.
The reason for this, he explained, was that the information was not available to local authorities given, he claimed, that the need for it had not arisen earlier.
He said that an analysis of court judgments over 2020 had been attempted but it was possible to determine exactly how many individuals had received an effective prison sentence of less than one year.
What do you make of this proposal?