Section 337 of the Criminal Procedure Code 2010 introduces the new regime for Community Based Sentencing (CBS) which gives the court more flexibility in meting out sentences under the applicable sections.
CBS is targets offences and offenders that are traditionally viewed by the courts to be on the rehabilitation end of the spectrum: regulatory offences, offences involving younger accused persons and persons with specific and minor mental conditions. In totality, the regime endeavours to provide individualised justice as well as to cause the least disruption to the lives of first-time offenders to ensure their reintegration into society.
It was reported in The Straits Times on 11 January 2016 that the Attorney General had called for more CBS based options for less serious crimes.
Key Features of Community Based Sentencing
1. Mandatory Treatment Orders (MTO)
Provided by Clauses 339 and 340, the MTO allows the Court to order an offender to undergo psychiatric treatment in lieu of imprisonment. The duration of the treatment can be for a maximum of 24 months.
Prior to making a MTO, a suitability report by a psychiatrist is required. The psychiatrist, who is appointed by the Director of Medical Services of the Ministry of Health will have to:
(a) Assess if the offender is suffering from a treatable psychiatric condition
(b) Assess if the offender is suitable for treatment
(c) Assess if the offender’s psychiatric condition had contributed to the commission of the offence
If the offender does not meet any of the conditions, he is considered unsuitable for MTO and the courts will be unable to make such an order.
2. Day Reporting Orders (DRO)
Provided by Clauses 341 to 343, the DRO allows the Court to order an offender to report to a reporting centre on a regular basis for supervision and to undergo counselling and rehabilitation. The duration of the DRO can be from 3 to 12 months.
Prior to making a DRO, a suitability report by a Day Reporting Officer appointed by the Director of Prisons is required.
Even if the offender is deemed unsuitable, the Court can still sentence him to a DRO as the Court may take into account broader considerations. If rehabilitation is still a key consideration, the Courts would still impose a DRO if it feels that the DRO will punish the offender sufficiently.
3. Community Work Orders (CWO)
Provided by Clause 346, the CWO is modelled after the ‘Corrective Work Order’, but will provide for a wider range of offences and types of work to be mandated.
The type of community work has to have some nexus to the offence committed. This is to ensure that the offender takes responsibility for, and acknowledges the harm caused by his offence.
4. Community Service Orders (CSO)
The Courts are currently allowed to make a CSO pursuant to the Children and Young Persons’ Act, or as a condition of probation. Clauses 346 and 347 of the Criminal Procedure Code expands the existing order to allow offenders above the age of 16 to receive a CSO as standalone sentence or coupled with other community orders. This allows the offender to make reparations to the community.
Prior to making a CSO, a suitability report is required. The Court may make a CSO even if the community service officer finds the offender unsuitable.
5. Short Detention Orders (SDO)
Provided by Clause 348, the SDO allows the Courts to detain an offender in prison for a maximum of 14 days. The short duration is less disruptive and stigmatising than a longer stay and allows offenders to reintegrate into society at an earlier time.
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