Kerala Govt. Wants to put more minor offenders under probation

Published on: 18 Feb, 2015
Published under: General Kerala News

To free up space in the jails and to prevent the hardening of petty criminals inside the prisons, the government of Kerala wants to strengthen the probationary system for first-time offenders.

A high-level meeting of judges and police officers, called by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, has decided to implement the provisions of the Probation of Offenders Act 1958. The Social Justice Department will lead the efforts to formulate a mechanism within the society to monitor observers under a scheme titled ‘Nervazhi’.

The law excludes offences which attract capital punishment or imprisonment for life. The option of probation is also not applicable to the peddling and use of drugs, sexual assault, theft, cheating, adulteration of food, corruption and anti-national activities.

When young offenders and those who have been sentenced to up to three years are sent to jail, they are likely to form a network with hardened criminals and involve in more crimes, the experts feel. If less serious offenders and first-time offenders are put on probation, the overcrowding of the jails in the state can also be eased.

A probationary system will help the offenders to live without the stigma of a jailbird. Those who get involved in a crime by mistake will be led to a career in crime if they are put in jail, leading to a shunning by society.

There are 99 offenders under probation in Kerala right now. At the same time, 76 percent of convicts in Kerala’s jails are first-time offenders. About 80 percent of undertrials are charged with offences which attract less than capital punishment.


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