FACULTY OF LAW
TEXTBOOK ON PROBATION LAW
Students have become increasingly interested in penitentiary and probation law, which has led to the creation of a Georgian textbook, Probation Law. A co-author of the textbook noted that the popularity of the previous publication, Penitentiary Law released in 2014, written by Moris Shalikashvili, Givi Mikanadze, and Maia Khasia, led to the idea of the new textbook. Penitentiary Law is very popular in academic circles, and with practicing lawyers and students. Importantly, several other Georgian universities have included this textbook in their academic syllabi. The authors of the new book are Moris Shalikashvili as well as Giorgi Arsoshvili, Head of the National Probation Agency, and Givi Mikanadze, Associate Professor at the University of East European Studies and Project Manager of the European Council Department of Criminal Law. They carried out research on probation law in 2014-2015 and published the textbook in 2015.
The studies and the publication were supported by Prison Reform International (PRI), the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and European Union, and addressed “Criminal Justice Reform in Georgia’’. Project implementation is being carried out by an Austrian company – Hulla & Co. Human Dynamics KG. Studies were conducted in two directions: the analysis of existing legal acts and their compliance with international standards, and a criminological analysis of the execution of non-custodial sentences.
The application of alternative sentences has not been properly developed over recent years and a “zero tolerance” policy in every prison has badly affected the penitentiary field, as well as society in general. For a better introduction and promotion of an alternative sentence policy, it was vital to carry out proper studies and an exhaustive analysis. As studies suggest, giving an alternative sentence greatly depends on the possibilities of its being carried out, a subject to which the scholars focused special attention and drew up useful recommendations.
One recommendation addressed how to reinforce the principle of sentence individualization and enhance psychological rehabilitation programmes. The number of social workers and psychologists in the penal system is far from adequate. According to the scholars’ recommendations, the State should increase measures to speed up the process to initiate risk assessment and sentence individualization, and make needs-based psychosocial rehabilitation programmes more available.
Special attention must be paid to the recommendation for “non-custodial sentences and probation’’ that addresses cancellation of fines prescribed by Georgian law. This practice is very discriminatory towards probationers and is not in agreement with international standards. According to recommendations for making the rehabilitation process of paroled prisoners more effective, social workers should make intensive efforts to prepare prisoners for release; it is important for them to understand the family and social environment beforehand.
Following the requirements of Article 20 of the Tokyo Rules, the scholars evoke the complexities of the probation system and that it should always be possible identify the needs of the system as well as to analyse and appropriately prioritize those needs. The phenomena of house arrest and electronic monitoring are novelties to Georgian probation law and to the legal field in general.
Stemming from the amazing changes that technology has initiated in all aspects of human life in the new millennium, it is essential to keep up with these changes and support further developments in each field. The gradual introduction of new computer and communications technology to criminal law has led to improvements in protection, control and monitoring, particularly in the penitentiary system and for applying sentences. Different types of electronic monitoring will help law enforcement authorities exercise better supervision, contributing to the effectiveness and appropriateness of sentences. From the scholars’ perspective, at the initial stage, only house arrest should be used with juveniles, and should be executed by the National Probation Agency. The judge should have the authority to sentence juveniles from six months to one year’s house arrest with electronic monitoring. Such alternative forms of punishment ensure the execution of a sentence without removing a juvenile from his/her community, family and school, which are indispensable for his/her social integration and education.
According to Moris Shalikashvili, the textbook Probation Law aims at students, employers in the National Probation Agency and the general reader. It is part of the academic courses so that students understand these issues and are more competitive on the job market. Plans are being made to study other specific institutions like probation law for related postgraduate thesis work, and to further develop specialized legal fields.