Ministry Seeks to Cut Community Service Lengths by Half ({{commentsTotal}})

Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

The Ministry of Justice will propose cutting the maximum hours of community service by half as part of a package of reforms aimed at overhauling the Penal Code.

The current maximum of 1,460 hours will be lowered to 700 hours if the bill is passed, Eesti Päevaleht reported today.

Jako Salla, an adviser for the crime analysis division at the ministry said that the high number of hours makes it harder for people to hold a full-time job, adding that the maximum hours in Scandinavian countries is around 200, while the average sentence in Estonia is 240 hours.

The bill will also give courts the power to refer offenders back to community service, as under current law, anyone who fails to show up will be given an automatic jail sentence.

An adviser for the Police and Border Guard Board, Riina Kurgpõld, said that currently 28 percent of those who choose community service over a jail for a criminal offense still end up going to jail for breaking the pact.

The long community service hours could partially be replaced by participation in social programs such as anger management courses and lectures on healthy living.

In mid-July the ministry said they are planning a number of changes to the Penal Code, including cutting the number of punishable offenses and decriminalizing statements made towards judges and policemen from a criminal to a misdemeanor offense.

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