Sun, May 06, 2018 - Page 3 News List

FEATURE: Book reveals 30 years of work to help victims, offenders

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

When thinking about the judicial system, people usually focus on prominent court cases, but pay scant attention to back-end protection services, such as legal assistance and protection for victims and rehabilitation programs for offenders.

To shine a light on the people engaged in these necessary services, the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office last year conducted a documentation project that culminated in the publication of a book titled Judicial Protection Records (臺北地檢署司法保護實錄).

“If we do not document and preserve this history, the records and materials could be lost and leave us with nothing,” Taipei District Chief Prosecutor Shing Tai-chao (邢泰釗) said of the project that compiled cases from the past three decades.

The book introduces readers to the wide-ranging judicial protection mechanisms the office manages, and brings to life the people who work with victims and offenders, including probation officers, social workers, counselors, legal aid providers, and advocates for rehabilitation and redress programs.

“With this publication, we strive to improve the work and results of judicial protection, and to share our experiences working with other government agencies and organizations,” Shing said.

Most people think of the prosecution, trial and verdict as the front end of the judicial process and regard judicial protection as the back end, Shing said.

“However, from an overall perspective, these are closely linked and should take place concurrently to achieve the best result for society,” he added.

The office is planning on translating the book into English for the benefit of foreign dignitaries and visiting officials, and to help promote international exchanges and understanding between Taiwan’s judiciary and its overseas counterparts, Shing said.

The book discusses supportive and protective services for victims, restorative justice, parole and probation policies, social support networks, rehabilitation programs and crime prevention measures, in addition to case studies in which ex-offenders have successfully started new lives to highlight the overall decline in recidivism.

Shing, Head Prosecutor Chen Shu-yun (陳淑雲) and Chief Probation Officer Tseng Hsin-tung (曾信棟) were in charge of the project, which includes contributions from Taiwan After-Care Association Taipei chapter director Liu Tsung-hui (劉宗慧), probation officer Ke Chia-hui (柯嘉惠) and Association for Victims Support Taipei chapter secretary-general Yang Chien-hui (楊千慧).

Taiwan over the past five years has seen an increase in drug-related and drunk driving convictions, which has resulted in prison overcrowding, Tseng said.

“The idea is to provide treatment and counseling for these offenders, and through supervision and help by officials, hopefully release them early on parole for good behavior,” Tseng said. “Offenders who have repented after serving time will be returned to their families for reintegration into the community and to contribute to society through work.”

It took contributors and researchers a year to read through the office’s library and archive, Ke said.

“We put much time and diligence into digging through case files and materials on judicial protection and restorative justice since the early 1980s,” Ke said. “The process has yielded valuable insight and lessons regarding our justice system, and the resulting book is an important window into this fascinating history.”

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