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Reformatory CP - July 2003

Corpun file 11637

The Nation, Bangkok, 22 July 2003

Young Offenders

Softer treatment weighed for teens

Ministry proposes ban on caning and solitary confinement for juvenile inmates

By Piyanart Srivalo
The Nation

The Justice Ministry has proposed banning caning and solitary confinement in youth observation and protection centres.

The ministry's proposals call for the young inmates to be given chores or deprived of certain benefits, such as time to play sports, as penalties for wayward behaviour. They also favour probation over punishment.

A Cabinet screening committee chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Korn Dabaransri will consider the proposals today, a government House source said.

The proposals include a regulation that directors of the centres must inform inmates of their offences before punishing them. Moreover, any cut to inmates' benefits must not violate their fundamental rights.

Benefits must not be cut for more than two weeks and the time period must be clearly stated, according to the proposals.

As for chores, the proposals would require that the young inmates work no longer than two hours at a time.

The proposals would leave it up to the directors to decide punishment. They also give directors the power to allow inmates to leave the centre for home visits, educational trips or drug treatment.

However, the inmates must not be allowed to leave for more than seven days and must have served three months of their terms without misbehaving, according to the proposals.

The Cabinet Secretary is reluctant to endorse the proposals, because they appear to give directors complete power in deciding punishments, the source said. The Secretariat of the Cabinet also reportedly commented that the proposals lacked clear definitions of the offences that would warrant punishment.

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