Legal Affairs team, Consultant meet to discuss alternatives to incarceration

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Attorney General, Basil Williams and his team today (Friday) met with consultant, Dr. Dianne Williams, who is contracted under the Support for the Criminal Justice System Programme (SCJS) to discuss alternatives to incarceration in Guyana, the Ministry of Legal Affairs said in a media release.

The issues emanated from the discussions were the design and implementation of a restorative justice programme under the Ministry of Legal Affairs, to solve minor offences or disputes through alternatives to trial; the design of proper rules of procedure; the proposal of appropriate standards of performance; a guide to the type of offences that should be the subject of restorative justice processes; the design and implementation of a training programme for restorative justice officers which includes court staff, lawyers, prosecutors, the media, Ministry of Legal Affairs officials, among others.

Essentially, the consultation further tackled the strengthening of the probation service, coupled with appropriate trainings; review protocols and design risk assessment tools to ensure that released inmates are appropriately tracked; train probation officers in the use of discretion to appropriately respond to each individual case; and provide the probation service with systems and equipment to generate and maintain adequate information concerning released offenders.

Restorative justice focuses on the needs of those affected by crime. This process allows persons to meet voluntarily with the others involved and gives them the chance to deal with the harm it has caused and helps them to heal.

In addition, discussions surrounded the importance of Probation Services as part of the criminal justice system. Probation service delivers community sentences which are tough, challenging offenders to change their offending lifestyles.

The SCJS programme seeks to strengthen the Probation and Social Service Department so it can perform adequate follow-up of treatments delivered in and after prison, in order to better tend to the rehabilitative needs of those who present a lesser risk of re-offending, the Ministry of Legal Affairs said.

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