Klong Prem Central prison in Bangkok

Thailand Weighs Program to Ease Bail Process for the Poor

In Thailand, the saying that only the poor go to jail rings true because judges use a lack of money or assets to pay for a defendant’s release as criteria to deny bail.

Each year, about 66,000 additional people are incarcerated in Thailand because they do not have enough cash or assets to post bail before and during their trials, according to the Rabi Bhadanasak Research and Development Institute. The local think-tank researches the Thai justice system, including ways to make the process of bailing out inmates more fair and equitable.

“I talked to a few inmates in a prison. Many had no other choice but to plead guilty for what they did not do because they did not have money to bail themselves out and then fight from outside of the cell,” Rangsiman Rome, who was denied bail and held for nearly two weeks twice in the past year, told BenarNews.

“And doing so gives them a chance to get released faster than fighting the case which takes too long, so they gave up fighting,” said Rangsiman, an anti-junta activist who faces two trials for defying government orders and campaigning against a constitutional referendum.

Relief for people like him could be on the way.

Justice advocates are experimenting with a program where bail is assessed according to a defendant’s risk of flight before trial to replace a current system that requires large amounts of money or assets to secure release in cases where the maximum potential sentence is more than five years.

In February, the Rabi Bhadanasak Institute, which is under the independent Court of Justice, began advising five courts to experiment with flight-risk assessment for granting bail.

“They granted bail to roughly 700 defendants and about 5 percent of them jumped bail,” Mukmetin Klannurak, a senior judge at the Supreme Court who directs the institute, told BenarNews, adding that seven more courts joined the program in July, bringing the total to 12.

The institute hopes to set up the program in 250 courts nationwide.

“By statistics, it does not matter how much the bail is or how severe the punishment is, the jumpers are jumpers and those who used to jump bail stand 17 times higher chance of doing so again,” Mukmetin said.

Full story: BenarNews

Nontarat Phaicharoen

Copyright ©2017, BenarNews. Used with the permission of BenarNews.

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