In Pakistan prison overcrowding is an acute issue. Recent estimates place prison populations well over their maximum capacities. A third of the country’s prisons are holding over twice the number of prisoners authorized. Majority of these prison sentences are also far less likely to rehabilitate and reintegrate offenders into mainstream society. Offenders are much more likely to reoffend if they are incarcerated in overcrowded prisons with hardened offenders; cut off from all social networks outside the prison; and stigmatized as criminals even after their release. This effectively condemns them to perpetual exile from mainstream society. Effecting Change in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Probation is, by its very nature, an incredibly flexible tool to bring about positive criminal justice outcomes. In addition to the benefits of lowered prison populations and a subsequent decrease in financial burdens on the province, probation also allows judges to distinguish between different offenders and provide sentences to each based on their particular circumstances and tailored to ensure the best possible outcome for the justice system, as well as the offender himself.
Therefore, a reformed probation system was deemed to be necessary to provide criminal justice outcomes far more agreeable to the state. This reform included, allowing offenders to serve out their sentences within their communities thus enabling the community to police these offenders, and allowing opportunities for restorative justice. The sentencing diversity probation provides holds far more potential for long-term rehabilitation and reform than ‘traditional’ forms of criminal sentences such as fines or imprisonment.
To this end RSIL, in collaboration with the Aitebaar Rule of Law Programme, engaged in an examination of the prevailing probationary regime and how it intersects with the broader criminal justice framework in the province of KPK. The aim of this investigation was to identify areas where, legislative and regulatory reform of the KPK RPD could be conducted to comply with international best practices regarding non-custodial sentencing. In identifying areas for reform, RSIL also developed viable, indigenous solutions to these issues which are feasible.
The report is divided into four chapters. The first chapter looks into the context of probation in KPK. This involved a historical assessment of probation in the four provinces followed by a brief discussion on the contemporary operation of the probation regime. The second chapter looks at the approaches to probation adopted in various foreign jurisdictions. It also looks to the international standards established on non-custodial sentences. The third chapter is a review of the existing KPK probation regime. The structure and administration of the probation regime has been reviewed and an analysis of the Probation of Offenders Ordinance 1960 and its corresponding West Pakistan Probation of Offenders Rules of 1961 has been carried out. Chapter three is where many of the primary defects of the legislation are highlighted. Chapter four focuses on providing recommendations to address the various problems of the probation system in KP.