Portugal is proud to host the upcoming conference on electronic monitoring (EM) this year in Évora on May 5-7, 2011. Susana Pinto has been part of the preparatory group since 2009, when the CEP conference took place in Egmond aan Zee, The Netherlands. It is the first time that the conference has been held in a country other than The Netherlands. Susana Pinto explains how the conference furthers probation in Portugal: “We are not new in EM but we still experience difficulties convincing the judicial community that EM is an important tool in the probation service; more precisely as an alternative to imprisonment.” The high level of interest in the conference shows, however, that EM is a hot topic across Europe.
EM wins popularity
Interest for the CEP Electronic Monitoring 2011 Conference (EM 2011) is high because EM is increasingly being used in Europe and in other countries across the globe. Delegates from probation services, policy makers and manufacturers will attend the conference. “This year’s conference could be a big success because we are going to attract a new public. Not only the Mediterranean countries such as Spain, but also the Latin-American countries, such as Brazil and Colombia will be present. And that means sharing experiences with more people, which enriches everybody.”
Focus upon EM in probation
EM 2011 will especially focus on the use of EM in probation sentences and the benefits of EM will become more apparent. Working with EM in Portugal, Susana Pinto knows its advantages: “We must not forget that EM is technology but we also know, because we have the experience, that EM is undeniably at the centre of criminal policies and not only because of cost reductions but because EM is seen as an option which allows the offender to avoid being contaminated by the prison environment and losing family, social and work ties. Stigmatisation associated with prison is a huge hurdle to overcome in offender rehabilitation, therefore EM offers a good alternative.”
EM 2011 in Portugal
Both the preparatory group, and the participants at EM 2009 proposed the CEP conference would be held in another country. This change would extend its reach significantly. Susana Pinto emphasizes the advantages for Portugal: “Locating the conference in Portugal will help us achieve some of our goals for probation. The publicity that is generated around EM 2011 will make the topic better known among the Portuguese public, and Portuguese probation practice will become better known in the international community as well. And that give us some points!”