LEGAL VIEWPOINT: Alternate sentencing in Bahrain by Dr AbdelGadir Warsama Ghalib, Legal Counsel, Bahrain

Dr AbdelGadir Warsama Ghalib, Legal Counsel, Bahrain

Bahrain in 2017 issued a law covering alternate sentencing to replace imprisonment or custodial sentences. This is a good step for all segments of the community in Bahrain particularly with reference to sentenced offenders, who are an integral part of our community in this small island.

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It would be important to mention that, the main philosophy behind punishment in justice and criminology jurisprudence is reformation rather than revenge and or retaliation. In other words, to take positive steps towards “reforming” the offender to heal and restore his personal behavior rather than revenging from him by punishment for his criminal attitude. This could be the best way of bringing back, restoration and giving a chance to all members of the society to restart a new future and this will give many benefits to the concerned person as well as his society. Moreover, in addition to rehabilitation of the offender there are instances to put right what he did i.e. repatriation.

However, the alternate sentencing everywhere, depends on the merits of each case and the circumstances associated to the crime and the criminal person behind the crime. All this, of course, will be taken in consideration while considering alternate sentencing for some offenders. As, there are other valid justifications behind custodial punishment of offenders including deterrence to others and likewise the necessary protection and safety to the society by keeping some offenders away under control.   

The shift towards alternative sentencing means that some offenders could avoid imprisonment along with its many bad consequences. This is beneficial for the society, as it may prevent offenders from getting into what is known as the “revolving door syndrome”. This means, the inability of a person to go back to his earlier normal life after leaving a prison, or as others say, to become a career criminal and habitual offender which is graver and more dangerous to the society.

Instead of depriving those who commit less dangerous offences, as example some summary offences, of their freedom, courts can put alternate limitations on them and instruct them to undertake social duties or community sentences. Already, Courts in Bahrain are complying to this law and many offenders, no doubt, benefited from this legal stand and new treatment. Hope, this will make our society more intact and forgiving for better future.