July 24, 2023 -Philipsburg – The Honorable Minister of Justice, Anna E. Richardson, proudly announces the successful development and publication of a new comprehensive ankle bracelet policy for the conditional release and electronic monitoring of offenders in Sint Maarten. This groundbreaking policy marks a significant step forward in the pursuit of alternative sentencing measures for non-violent crimes and addresses the pressing issue of cell capacity on our island.
The new policy introduces electronic detention not only as a condition for early release but also as an alternative to imprisonment, especially for non-violent offenders. With the goal of exploring and establishing a broader vision for detention execution on Sint Maarten, Minister Richardson is busy establishing a task force with representatives from the prosecutor’s office, the courthouse, the probation office, the prison, legal experts and the ministry to be included.
The policy outlines the criteria for early conditional release, ensuring a safe and controlled reintegration of individuals into society after serving a portion of their sentence. The decision to grant early conditional release will be based on recommendations from the probation office, the prosecutor’s office, and the prison, with a focus on limiting the risk of repeat offenses and considering the interests of victims and their relatives.
In situations where there is an urgent need for additional cell capacity, the Minister of Justice can decide on early conditional release for those individuals closest to their release date, who have also served the longest portion of their imprisonment term.
To ensure compliance with the conditions of early conditional release, the policy incorporates electronic monitoring (EM) as a special condition. The use of EM as an alternative sentencing measure for non-violent crimes is actively encouraged in discussions between the Probation Office and the Prosecutor’s Office. By including information on EM possibilities in case reports, the authorities aim to have a positive impact on the challenge of cell shortage.
Electronic Monitoring can be applied in different stages of the criminal justice process, including suspension of pre-trial detention and (early) conditional release. The policy specifies requirements for EM as a special condition, including legal residency status, acceptable residential address with GPS signal reception, willingness to comply with EM rules, and stable mental condition.
Speaking about the new policy, Honorable Minister Anna E. Richardson said, “This holistic ankle bracelet policy is a significant stride towards more effective and fair justice practices in Sint Maarten. By providing viable alternatives to imprisonment for non-violent offenders and utilizing electronic monitoring as an essential tool, we aim to enhance the reintegration process and contribute to a safer society.”
The policy document also outlines the decision-making process for granting (early) conditional release, the assessment criteria, and the legal remedies available for the sentenced individuals. It highlights the responsibilities of relevant authorities, including the Public Prosecution Office and the Probation Office, in monitoring compliance and taking necessary actions if conditions are violated.
Minister Richardson assures that the new policy promotes a balanced approach, considering the rights and interests of both the convicted individuals and society’s safety. By integrating electronic monitoring and conditional release, Sint Maarten takes a progressive step towards modernizing its criminal justice system