Bail for minor offenders may ease jail overcrowding

national September 25, 2014 01:00

By Piyanut Tumnukasetchai
The Na

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Official sees fund as an opportunity for underprivileged to access justice



NEARLY 60,000 DEFENDANTS will enjoy temporary freedom during court trials, if a plan to place on bail those facing prosecution over minor offences gets the go-ahead.

The plan, if implemented, will also ease prison overcrowding.

At present, the country’s prisons hold about 310,000 inmates.

Justice Ministry deputy permanent secretary Tawatchai Thaikyo yesterday revealed he had come up with the initiative to use Bt120 million from the Justice Fund to seek bail for defendants being prosecuted for alleged minor offences such as gambling or encroachment on state land.

He said about 59,000 defendants are now facing court trials for allegedly committing minor offences.

Most do not have the money to secure bail.

“This means they have lost the opportunity to work and take care of their families during court trials,” Tawatchai pointed out.

He said he planned to present the project to bail out these defendants to Justice Minister Paiboon Khumchaya and then for the Cabinet to consider soon.

Tawatchai said this project would not only ease prison overcrowding but also improve people’s access to justice.

Corrections Department director-general Vittaya Suriyawong said this project would be an opportunity for the underprivileged who do not have money to secure bail and end up behind bars.

Better chance of getting bail

“The project will improve their access to bail. But whether their bail requests are approved will depend on the court,” Vittaya said.

He said if there were risks that the defendants would jump bail or intimidate witnesses, the court would not grant them bail.

“And definitely, those facing serious charges will not be eligible for this project,” he said.

The Corrections Department will be asked to survey exactly how many inmates would be eligible to join the project if it was implemented.

According to Tawatchai, the Justice Ministry has also been reviewing how to handle criminal cases that can be settled out of court in a more efficient manner.

“Some legal amendments may be necessary,” Tawatchai said.

 

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