What’s better than jail for misdemeanors? Community service, says CJ

Malanjum said that on top of being a successful step to discourage repeat offenders, community service is able to solve the problem of overcrowding at prisons under the current penal system. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Malanjum said that on top of being a successful step to discourage repeat offenders, community service is able to solve the problem of overcrowding at prisons under the current penal system. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 11 — Sentencing a serial offender of minor offences to community service has proven to be a more effective deterrent than sending them to prison, Tan Sri Richard Malanjum said today.

The chief justice said that punishment has worked in Sabah due to the public shame rained on the perpetrators of misdemeanors and encouraged judges elsewhere to try it out.

“There is a provision in the Criminal Procedure Code which allows punishment through community services for non-severe offences and we use this against them.

“We find it very effective than sending them to prison for a week or a month,” he told a press conference at the opening of the legal year 2019 at Putrajaya Marriott hotel here.

He added that on top of being a successful step to discourage repeat offenders, community service is able to solve the problem of overcrowding at prisons under the current penal system.

Malanjum was asked his response to the forced community service meted out in Semporna, Sabah after several litterbugs were forced to don green vests with the word “MONYET” (monkey) emblazoned on them as part of their punishment for dumping garbage indiscriminately in the district earlier this week.

Semporna has been facing cleanliness issues for a long time due to the attitude of the locals and especially foreigners who often throw rubbish indiscriminately.

Earlier during his speech, Malanjum said judges and judicial officers were being encouraged to consider imposing community services instead of imprisonment to offenders in appropriate cases.

“In this way not only it may better rehabilitate the offenders, it is also costs saving for the prison,” he said.

In November last year, Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said he was dissatisfied with the level of cleanliness in Semporna which he feared will negatively affect tourist arrivals.

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