Latvia has been actively working on the implementation of electronic monitoring and starting from 1st July this year the first inmates will be able to apply for early release from prison sentence with electronic monitoring. The technological solution selected is the radio-frequencies-based technology to control the location of a person in a specific place, while the introduction of electronic monitoring based on GPS technology is not intended so far.
Electronic monitoring in Latvia is regarded as an alternative to imprisonment and its implementation essentially is aimed to reduce the number of inmates in prisons (Latvia has one of the highest penitentiary rates in Europe). Within the frame of the selected model, electronic monitoring measures will be fully integrated into the already existing supervision system, to reinforce its rehabilitation capacity, where the sentenced person’s gradual transition to life in community is important. Consequently, the performance of electronic monitoring will be a function of the State Probation Service of Latvia.
The introduction of electronic monitoring institute is large scale change in Latvia’s criminal justice system, affecting all the institutions involved in the execution of criminal penalties, not just the probation service alone. So the State Probation Service of Latvia has been organising a range of informative events on implementation of electronic monitoring for cooperation partners.
One of such events took place in Riga on 9th June 2015, organised by the State Probation Service of Latvia in co-operation with the Confederation of European Probation, the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security and Oslo Probation Office. The seminar aimed to provide a report on electronic monitoring application options within criminal justice, learning from the experiences in other countries, mainly in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Norway. Among other things, the recommendation of the European Council CM/Rec(2014)4 on electronic monitoring were discussed.
The seminar was attended by representatives from the Latvian Ministry of Justice, Ministry of the Interior Affairs, Ombudsman’s Office, Prison Administration, State Police, courts and prosecutor’s offices. The seminar was led by Michiel van der Veen (Netherlands), Marianne Kylstad Øster, Njål Grimstad and Bernt Reidar Espedal (Norway), who shared their knowledge and expertise with the attendees.
In April 2016, the Confederation of European Probation and State Probation Service of Latvia will jointly organise in Riga the 10th European Conference on Electronic Monitoring, and apparently from the seminar discussions, Latvians may be represented at this conference in large numbers because of their live interest about it.
The seminar took place within the frame of the State Probation Service of Latvia’s project No.LV08/1 “Increasing the Application of Alternatives to Imprisonment (Including Possible Pilot Project on Electronic Surveillance)”, co-financed by the Norwegian Financial Mechanism.