Right to Liberty and Security

II. Parole and Probation

The Law on Probation[1] came into force on 1 July 2012 and established probation as a conditional alternative to a custodial sentence (a suspended sentence or parole), throughout which the probationer is under supervision.[2] 

The increasing rarity of parole further pushes the number of prisoners up, increasing tensions in detention facilities and fostering frustration among inmates and their loved ones towards courts.

The Law on Probation, together with the amended and supplemented Criminal Code,[3] Code of Criminal Proceedings,[4] and Code of the Enforcement of Punishments,[5] created a new legal framework for the probation system in Lithuania. However, despite the fact that further individualization of probation became possible, probation became an even rarer sight following the entry of the above laws into force: suspended sentences made up only 8.2% of all sentences passed in 2012 and 6.9% in 2013; 36.5% of all persons leaving prison in 2012 did so on parole, with the number being 34.2% in 2013. In fact, both forms of probation were used less in 2013 than at any other point since the restoration of independence.[6] 

The increasing rarity of parole further pushes the number of prisoners up, increasing tensions in detention facilities[7] and fostering frustration among inmates and their loved ones towards courts that, for reasons that the convicted do not understand, refuse to approve parole commission decisions granting conditional release.[8] 

Short-term excursions and learning opportunities outside the place of detention are important means of achieving gradual integration. While there are good examples of these practices,[9] they are still very rare. Furthermore, the development of halfway houses – institutions that will house convicts nearing the end of their sentence with less restrictions placed on their liberty, preparing them for parole – has begun.[10] Convicts in these halfway houses will be made ready for an independent life outside of prison, becoming employed and reintegrated into society in other ways. Unfortunately, the development of halfway houses is impeded by prevailing stereotypes and opposition from residents.[11] 

Convicts are rarely placed under intensive supervision (by means of electronic bracelets) – less than one in six requests to use this measure are granted, despite the fact that the system was primarily meant to reduce the number of prisoners. The fact that electronic bracelets are used very rarely – even though transgressions are few and far between – demonstrates that institutions are unreasonably wary of innovations. 

The Law Supplementing and Amending the Code of the Enforcement of Punishments came into force on 1 January 2013,[12] making parole no longer available to persons convicted of crimes against the sexual self-determination and/or inviolability of minors. Not only did this amendment deny the possibility of probation to these individuals – applying the general legal principle for the enforcement of sentences, it was also extended to persons already serving their sentences. Even though in this case what was sought was to ensure that liability for serious crimes remains strict, the refusal to consider parole for this category of convicts may lead them to experience negative consequences – steeper climb towards resocialization and increased risk of repeat offending. 

The Law on Probation provides that Probation Services may cooperate with associations, religious communities and fellowships, with other legal entities or their subsidiaries, as well as with volunteers, on a contractual basis in order to achieve the aims of probation – namely, ensuring effective resocialization and minimizing the risk of repeat offending.[13] These entities may offer social support to probationers, look after their resocialization and implement behaviour programmes. 

However, in practice it is still rare for the probation system to make use of the services of and support offered by NGOs. The interaction of most probation services with NGOs is limited to certain episodes, when organizing various actions.[14] Only the Vilnius Regional Probation Service has enjoyed long-term collaborative relationships with Caritas of Vilnius Archdiocese and the Society for the Care of Prisoners of Lithuania, making use of their services to exercise certain functions for the social integration of the convicted.[15]

 It is important for the probation system to prioritize involving volunteers in probation work. Volunteering not only allows to form closer bonds built on trust, which is an important condition to the successful integration of convicts, but also increases the competence of the volunteers themselves, allowing them to overcome stereotypes associated with convicted people. In February 2012, The Vilnius Regional Probation Service was the first to start looking for volunteers. In the first year, 26 volunteers became involved with the probation service, out of which 15 participated in further probation activities and extended their volunteering agreements to the fall of 2013.[16] After a presentation given to volunteers on 25 September 2013, 20 students expressed a desire to join and attended introductory training.[17] Fall 2014 also saw another call for a group of volunteers. By the end of 2014, most probation services had announced that they were looking for volunteers. Even though the Law on Probation reinforces the principle of cooperation, subsidiarity and promotion of volunteer work,[18] the inclusion of volunteers is still being ignored when measuring the work of probation services against the set criteria. 

Findings and Recommendations 

  • In developing the probation system, it is recommended to:
  • Clearly define the competences of Parole Commissions and the courts with respect to the grant of parole, with precise criteria for making such decisions in order to avoid the possibility of restricting parole without justification;
  • Continue developing the system of individualized and gradual conditional release (featuring short-term trips, work and learning opportunities outside of prison, placement in a halfway house, with appropriate aid and support given during the preparation for the convict's eventual release), involving non-governmental organizations and volunteers as full-fledged partners;
  • Study the effectiveness, efficiency and need for intensive supervision (using electronic devices), to educate decision makers on the practical efficiency of these devices and to promote their use.

[1] Law on Probation, 22 December 2011, No. XI-1860, http://www3.lrs.lt/pls/inter3/dokpaieska.showdoc_l?p_id=415894&p_tr2=2

[2] Law on Probation, 22 December 2011, No. XI-1860, Art. 2(5), http://www3.lrs.lt/pls/inter3/dokpaieska.showdoc_l?p_id=415894&p_tr2=2

[3] Law Amending Articles 48, 64, 67, 75, 82, 87, 92 and Repealing Articles 77, 94 of the Criminal Code, 22 December 2011, No. XI-1861, http://www3.lrs.lt/pls/inter3/dokpaieska.showdoc_l?p_id=415895

[4] Law Amending and Supplementing Articles 89, 90, 339, 342, 348, 357, 358, 360, 362, 364, 452 of and adding Articles 361, 2531 to the Code of Criminal Procedure, 22 December 2011, No. XI-1862, http://www3.lrs.lt/pls/inter3/dokpaieska.showdoc_l?p_id=415896&p_tr2=2

[5] Law Amending Articles 18, 19, 66, 90, 91, 126, 138, 140, 152, 154, 157, 158, 159, 164, 176 and Repealing Articles 127, 160, 161, 162, 163 of the Code of the Enforcement of Punishments, 22 December 2011, No. XI-1863, http://www3.lrs.lt/pls/inter3/dokpaieska.showdoc_l?p_id=415895

[6] Gintautas Sakalauskas, "Parole Post the Law on Probation: Theory and Practice", 2013, No. 4 (82), p. 5-39

[7] Dalia Gudavičiūtė, "Prisoners Wishing to be Release Ahead of Time Left Disappointed and Enraged", published in lrytas.lt on 16 June 2013, http://www.lrytas.lt/lietuvos-diena/kriminalai/i-laisve-anksciau-laiko-noreje-iseiti-kaliniai-nuvilti-ir-isiute.htm

[8] "Picket in Support of Prisoners Took Place Outside of Parliament", published in delfi.lt on 11 October 2014, http://www.delfi.lt/archive/article.php?id=63019256

[9] Arturas Paknys, Tadas Ignatavičius, "No Guards to Accompany on Trips to Work Outside the Correctional Facility", published in lrytas.lt on 3 September 2013, http://www.lrytas.lt/lietuvos-diena/aktualijos/dirbti-uz-pataisos-namu-vartu-be-sargybos.htm

[10] Rasa Stundžienė, "Convicted Women and Their Children to Become Neighbours with Residents of Panevėžys", published in lrytas.lt on 5 June 2013, http://www.lrytas.lt/lietuvos-diena/aktualijos/nuteistos-moterys-su-savo-vaikais-taps-panevezieciu-kaimynemis-201306042059.htm; "Something New for Lithuanian Prisoners - Halfway Houses", published in delfi.lt on 11 October 2014, http://www.delfi.lt/news/daily/lithuania/naujove-lietuvos-kaliniams-pusiaukeles-namai.d?id=66089958; Loreta Juodzevičienė, "Prisoners With Half a Year Left Until Release Will Be Accomodated in a New Home", published in lrytas.lt on 23 October 2014, http://bustas.lrytas.lt/nekilnojamasis-turtas/likus-pusmeciui-iki-laisves-kaliniai-isikurs-naujuose-namuose.htm

[11] Ričardas Vitkus, "Residents of the Šiauliai City Centre Were Successful in Refusing to Become Neighbours with Prisoners", published in lrytas.lt on 5 February 2014, http://www.lrytas.lt/lietuvos-diena/aktualijos/centre-gyvenantys-siaulieciai-apsigyne-nuo-kaliniu-kaimynystes-201402051659.htm

[12] Law Amending and Supplementing Article 158 of the Code of Enforcement of Punishments, 5 June 2012, No. XI-2040, http://www3.lrs.lt/pls/inter3/oldsearch.preps2?a=426467&b=

Law on Probation, 22 December 2011, No. XI-1860, Art 8(1), http://www3.lrs.lt/pls/inter3/dokpaieska.showdoc_l?p_id=415894&p_tr2=2

[14] Prison Department, Certificate of the Probation Office "About the Work Results of 2012 of Regional Probation Services and the Probation Office of the Prison Department Under the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania", 8 February 2013, No. LV-186

[15] Vilnius Regional Probation Service, project "Systemic Integration of Convicts in the Vilnius Region", 22 October 2014, http://www.kaldep.lt/lt/vapt/tarptautinis-bendradarbiavimas_276_723/projektine-veikla.html

[16] “Courageous Volunteering in Probation”, teisingumas.lt, 4 April 2013, http://www.teisingumas.lt/nj/rodytivn/aktualijos/611

[17] Vilnius Regional Probation Service, “Volunteerin in Vilnius Regional Probation Service ”, 18 October 2013, http://195.182.69.242/lt/vapt/naujienos-vrpi/archive/p70/savanoryste-vilniaus-apygardos-ypkk.html

[18] Law on Probation, 22 December 2011, No. XI-1860, Art 4(2)(4), http://www3.lrs.lt/pls/inter3/dokpaieska.showdoc_l?p_id=415894&p_tr2=2