Probation Officers Union responds to Justice Minister:Not all convicts released based on compensatory remedy law are monitored by probation services

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The National Union of Probation Services Officers (SNCSP) claims that the Justice Minister’s statement, according to which convicts who are about to be proposed for release on parole – as a result of the compensatory remedy law coming into force – will be monitored by SNCSP personnel, shows either “his intention to manipulate public opinion by falsely suggesting that the social impact of the release of a large number of convicts will be handled by the probation services” or “surprising ignorance” in what concerns the prerogatives of the probation officers. The members of the union also state that, so far, the Justice Ministry has not sent the probation services any kind of information on this law’s impact on the activity of probation officers.

The SNCSP reacted on Tuesday to the statements that Justice Minister Tudorel Toader made the day before, regarding the several thousand convicts about to be proposed for release on parole, following the coming into force of the compensatory remedy law. The minister had stated that each released convict will be monitored by a probation officer who will help him reintegrate.

“These statements do not match the truth since, according to the laws in force at this moment, probation services have monitoring prerogatives only regarding those persons who were convicted on the basis of the new Criminal Code (which came into force in 2014) and who, on the date of their parole, still have to serve two years or more,” the members of the SNCSP point out in a communique released on Tuesday.

They add that the 3,000 convicts who are about to go before the penitentiaries’ parole commissions include both persons convicted on the basis of the old Criminal Code (from 1969) and persons who were convicted on the basis of the new Criminal Code but who have less than two years left to serve, and the probation services lack any prerogatives regarding these persons.

The SNCSP states that the Justice Minister’s statements show either his intention to manipulate public opinion or “surprising ignorance.”

“The Justice Minister’s statements show either his intention to manipulate public opinion by falsely suggesting that the social impact of the release of so many convicts in such a short period of time will be handled by certain state institutions, more precisely by the probation services, or surprising ignorance in what concerns the role and prerogatives of probation officers, as regulated by the Criminal Code and the laws currently in force,” the SNCSP points out.

The SNCSP is asking the Justice Ministry to urgently present an exact and accurate assessment of the situation of the more than 3,000 convicts who have received the right to be released on parole as a result of the coming into force of the compensatory remedy law, and to point out exactly how many of them meet the legal conditions in order to be monitored by the probation services. “We point out that, so far, the Justice Ministry has not transmitted to the probation services any kind of information on this law’s impact on the activity of the probation officers,” the aforementioned source points out.

The SNCSP also claims that the Justice Minister’s statements threaten to perturb the activity of the probation services, there already being signals that some penitentiaries have in recent days started to send the parolees to probation services in order to receive “post-penal assistance,” even though no law covers such a situation.

The SNCSP also expresses its discontent with the fact that September’s budget adjustment saw the Probation’s budget for goods and services cut by RON 300,000, so that only utility expenses can be currently covered, there being no funds for office supplies, repairs of any nature, spare parts, extension cords, cleaning materials.

“In these conditions, which come on top of the Romanian probation system’s chronic underfunding, there is a real possibility that probation services could find themselves unable to carry out their activity before year’s end,” the SNCSP representatives add.