Pattaya court begins GPS-aided probation releases

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The Pattaya Provincial Court has begun allowing jail inmates unable to afford bail to be released wearing tracking bracelets.

Top Chonburi court, police and Probation Department officials on March 30 announced the formal start of the program that already has seen 190 inmates jailed on minor charges released after being fitted with bracelets equipped with Global Positioning System chips. Allowing real-time monitoring of the criminal suspects still facing court proceedings, the bracelets restrict areas where they can and cannot legally go and how fast they drive their vehicles.

Cutting off or short-circuiting their bracelets violates their probation, sending them back to jail.

Chief Justice Apichart Thepnoo said the bracelets serve two purposes: They allow non-serious offenders too poor to post bail to be released on probation, saving the government money in housing them and allowing equal access to legal protections and rights afforded wealthier suspects.

Chief Justice Apichart Thepnoo presents one of the GPS tracking bracelets.Chief Justice Apichart Thepnoo presents one of the GPS tracking bracelets.

Only defendants facing charges that carry prison sentences of three years or less are eligible for the GPS bracelet release. Those are considered petty offenses, including negligence or where a defendant already has confessed, but awaiting completion of a prosecutor’s investigative report.

Defendants apply for GPS probation and swear an oath to adhere to conditions of release.

The bracelets also can be used with defendants found guilty in court. Judges can alternatively allow convicts to be released on probation and required to wear the tracking bracelets for the duration of their jail sentences.