Indonesia must reduce sending people to prison and implement restorative justice

Indonesia has the opportunity to improve its criminal justice system to make it fairer. The Criminal Code (KUHP), the basis of the criminal justice system in Indonesia, is a system adopted from the Dutch colonial method and has not been substantially updated since 73 years of the formation of the Indonesian state.

The draft revision of the Criminal Code is currently in the hands of the DPR. The current RKUHP has provisions aimed at reducing short-term prison sentences, including alternatives to detention, such as surveillance and community service. The government and parliamentarians should focus more on alternative ways of punishment other than imprisonment.

Data from the Directorate General of Corrections shows that the number of prisoners and convicts is 250 thousand people, up from 160 thousand people in 2013. The increase in the number in these prisons in the last 5 years has caused prisons in Indonesia. To have excess prisoners compared to prison capacity ( overcrowding ), referring to data from the Center for Detention Studies in 2017.

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Nearly 60% of prisoners in Indonesia are exposed to narcotics cases. It would be better to rehabilitate drug users through health facilities rather than imprisonment. This also applies to petty criminals, rather than putting them in prison it would be better to train them. With skills so that they can be productive and can contribute to society.

Restorative justice

One alternative to criminal punishment is through a mediation process between victims, perpetrators and community representatives, known as restorative justice. The idea of restorative justice is to address the problem of crime, at the same time ensuring that offenders can be reintegrated into society.

A study shows that restorative justice not only promotes recovery but can reduce recidivism, or the repetition of crimes. A 2008 British study showed that restorative justice could reduce recidivism by 27 per cent. The victim found the process very helpful and positive, while the perpetrator described the encounter as ‘traumatic’ that could change his life.

Restorative justice also helps in identifying perpetrators who need special treatment such as drug users who need rehabilitation.

Implementation in Indonesia

Restorative justice has taken on a broader role in the Indonesian criminal justice system since the amendment to the Child Protection Law in 2014. Although the law only applies to children. And adolescents, the discourse on restorative justice is widespread in the Indonesian justice system.

The National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) since 2017 has discussed this with academics .And non-governmental organizations to discuss strategies for implementing restorative justice more broadly in Indonesia. In the current research, Bappenas looks at the implementation of restorative justice in Aceh Province. Aceh has special autonomy and has a customary institution, the kampong, to resolve disputes.

Gampong adjudicates several matters such as domestic disputes, disputes between families related to inheritance, disputes between residents, adultery, property rights disputes, theft within the family. Property disputes between husband and wife, minor theft, theft of pets, violations of customs regarding livestock, agriculture. And forests, disputes that occur at sea, disputes in the market, minor persecution, forest burning on a small scale and so on.

The implementation of camping in Aceh cannot be separated from criticism. This is addressed to the method of punishment of caning which is considered inhumane. This paper will not discuss the use of punishment based on sharia law, but rather on the process of resolving cases through the local community. This type of mediation can be used to resolve cases by bringing together victims and perpetrators in the same room. The system does not require police intervention and can prevent minor crimes from being resolved from the formal legal system process.

The new criminal justice system

The discussion of the new Criminal Code is an opportunity for Indonesia to rebuild the criminal justice system. However, the last draft of the Criminal Code Bill still includes imprisonment as the primary method of punishing many criminals. For example, someone who spreads communist ideology or insults the president can be imprisoned under the RKUHP. Another controversy is the expanded definition of adultery to apply to unmarried persons, effectively making any form of sex outside of marriage a crime.
Considering that the RKUHP is the foundation of the criminal justice system in Indonesia. It certainly has a major impact on correctional reform in Indonesia. In the last draft of the RKUHP, this new type of crime becomes a challenge for correctional institutions that are already experiencing overcrowding.

Research conducted by CDS regarding the standard of living for prisoners and convicts in the Jakarta area is around Rp. 59,000 per day. The budget cannot be fully borne by the government; only half of that figure can be met.

With this gap, the Directorate General of Corrections faces many problems in ensuring human rights for detainees and prisoners. Managing a prison involves a variety of factors. For example, in building management, certain quality standards need to be met. To meet these and other standards, prisons need good administration with sufficient quality human resources.

Restorative justice can be a solution for the Indonesian government, especially in dealing with overcrowding in prisons in Indonesia. The concept certainly takes time to be implemented. However, this is not impossible considering that many countries in the world have already experienced the results.

Both the Government and the RKUHP drafting team should consider a restorative justice approach to reduce overcrowding and ensure criminals are rehabilitated. And can return to be useful members of society.

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