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Criminal Justice System and Community-Based Treatment of Offenders in Thailand (From Annual Report for 2002 and Resource Material Series No. 61, P 265-293, 2003, -- See NCJ-205803)

NCJ Number
Kanokpun Kalyanasuta; Atchara Suriyawong
Date Published
29 pages
This paper reviews the criminal justice system in Thailand with a focus on community-based treatment.
Section 1 reviews the criminal proceedings, the criminal justice organizations, and the main challenges of the criminal justice system in Thailand. There are five main sentencing options available to judges: (1) death; (2) imprisonment; (3) confinement; (4) fine; and (5) forfeiture of property. The main criminal justice organizations in Thailand are the Royal Thai Police, the Office of the Attorney General, the Courts of Justice, the Department of Corrections, and the Juvenile Justice System. The main challenge facing the Thai criminal justice system is prison overcrowding, caused mainly by a harsh policy on drug use, long sentences, little use of non-institutional treatment, heavy reliance on incarceration, and low rates of granted bail. The lack of use of non-institutional measures within the criminal justice system is analyzed; main factors are conflicting policies, lack of new initiatives, staff shortages, and restrictions on rules and regulations. As a result of these challenges and the main problem of prison overcrowding, the Thai Government has committed to improving the criminal justice system. Section 2 discusses the community-based treatment of offenders in Thailand, which fall into the two categories of non-institutional treatment except for probation. Non-institutional treatment measures include parole, good time allowances, Royal King’s Pardons, and boot camp. In terms of probation, two agencies are responsible for the administration of probation in Thailand: the Observation and Protection Center, which is responsible for juvenile offenders, and the Department of Probation, which is responsible for adult offenders. The Department of Probation is adjusting its framework to be consistent with the government’s reform plans and to tackle its main challenges, which include a shortage of professional probation officers, a lack of training, moderate salaries, low morale, and heavy caseloads. Future plans and innovations include the idea of introducing compulsory drug treatment for drug addicts, introducing restorative justice practices in probation services, preparing for the suspension of prosecution, and using the Community Service Order as an alternative to incarceration, confinement, or fine. To reduce the crime rate and the escalating prison population it is important to continue to develop new measures of non-custodial treatment in Thailand. References