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Jordanian courts issued 300 alternatives to prison sentences in May

By Rana Husseini - Jun 14,2023 - Last updated at Jun 14,2023

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AMMAN — The Jordanian courts issued 300 alternative sentences to defendants in May, according to the Justice Ministry’s website and official social media pages.

Jordanian officials have stated in the past that the amendments to the Jordanian Penal Code (JPL) endorsed by Parliament in mid-2022 are intended to protect society by introducing alternatives to carceral punishments that did not previously exist within the law.

One of the more important additions was the introduction of “alternative penalties” for petty crimes. In such cases, the presiding judge can issue one or more alternatives to incarceration for non-repeat offenders, under the supervision of the Justice Ministry.

The amendments aim to give defendants, in cases of petty crimes, who are not repeat offenders, a chance to continue their lives by serving the community instead of being imprisoned alongside individuals who have committed major crimes, ministry officials said.

Alternatives include community service of between 40-100 hours, enrolment in a behavioural rehabilitation programme, forms of electronic surveillance lasting from one month to a year, as well as denied access to certain locations for a period ranging from one month to a year.

Ministry officials have said that behind the new amendments is a mission to spread a culture of forgiveness, reconciliation and community service among citizens.

The ministry’s website also indicated that Jordanian courts held 12,000 remote trials in May.

Remote trials, or “trials by distance”, were implemented by Jordanian courts in July 2018 with the aim of facilitating and accelerating litigation procedures.

The move aimed to reduce time, efforts and financial costs while mitigating the risks of transporting detainees.

The remote trial approach also ensures that those awaiting hearings or trials do not miss their sessions if faced with a critical emergency that prohibits them from physically being in court, such as a health condition.

The first remote trial session, which was described by the Ministry of Justice as a “significant leap for the criminal justice system in strengthening of the rule of law”, was held on July 24, 2018. 

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