Community service, electronic monitoring and probation assistance
Since 1 January 2018, community service is no longer a sentence as such but a way of executing a sanction. It is, therefore, no longer pronounced by a court but directly by the authority responsible for the execution of sentences.
A custodial sentence of a maximum of six months could be executed in the form of community service under art. 79a SCC; the remainder of a sentence of a maximum of six months after taking into account time spent on remand; a monetary penalty or a fine. This unpaid work must be accomplished for the benefit of social institutions, works of public interest or people in need. Four hours of community service equal a day of custodial sentence, one daily penalty unit of a monetary penalty or one day of an alternative custodial sentence in the case of contraventions.
Since 1 January 2018, electronic monitoring (EM) is definitively provided for in the Swiss Criminal Code (SCC - SR 311.0) as a mode of execution for custodial sentences or an alternative custodial sentence of 20 days to 12 months. It can also be ordered towards the end of a long custodial sentence, for a period of three to twelve months, instead of day release employment or day release employment and external accommodation (art. 79b SCC).
At the request of the offender, the executive authority may order the use of electronic devices and their secure attachment to the offender’s body. To be included as an amendment to the SCC, it has been tested in six cantons since 1999 and in Solothurn since 2003.
Electronic monitoring can only be ordered by the executive authority under certain conditions, in particular if the offender lives in permanent accommodation and is doing regulated work or training.
Lastly, a distinction is made between two types of house arrest with electronic monitoring: firstly so-called “front door” schemes, in which the whole period of the custodial sentence is monitored electronically at home, and “back door” schemes, where a person is electronically monitored at home at the end of their sentence, having spent the first part of the sentence in prison.
The cantonal authorities responsible for probation assistance ensure that offenders are supervised following their release from a custodial sentence to avoid reoffending and to help with their social reintegration (cf. Art. 93 SCC). The responsible authority provides the necessary assistance (counselling, assistance with housing, employment and education, finances, relationships, leisure time, health and therapy).
The judgement or decision establishes and explains the general provisions and conduct orders governing the probation assistance. The conduct orders concern, in particular, the offender’s occupation, place of residence, driving of motor vehicles, reparation as well as medical and psychological treatment under art. 94 SCC.
Since 2016, data for the period from 2007 until today are taken directly from the Swiss criminal records (VOSTRA) and are no longer drawn from the cantons through the Swiss Association for Probation and Social Work in the Justice System (prosaj).