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DRUG POLICY / Research

Care or Control: Assessment of the efficacy of Georgia’s probation system vis-à-vis drug offenses

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Head:   Guram IMNADZE

Number Of Pages:  83

Publication Year:  2022

ISBN:  978-9941-8-4460-1

Authors:  Tornike GERLIANI


Probation plays a cardinal role in the criminal justice system.

The objective of this research is to examine the probation system and its role in a broader context, as well as to determine the key challenges it faces. The following findings were discovered through the research exercise:

  • The objective of the probation system in Georgia is understood primarily in the technical sense of control and the enforcement of sentencing, while the obligation to care is not considered a central component of the policy;
  • In addition to the imposition of probation for drug offenses, other types of supplementary punishments (such as fines and deprivation of the right to work) are actively utilized, which increase the social and financial burden on a person;
  • The vast majority of individuals convicted of drug offenses are unemployed at the time of the commission of the crime;
  • The wide discretion of the probation officer is problematic, as they have the capacity to request a person on probation a for a drug crime or a person released on parole, at any time, to undergo a drug test and submit an appropriate report;
  • If a probationer is found to have used a drug, the obligation to notify the Ministry of the Interior is a logical continuation of the existing drug policy, which still sees drug users as objects of criminal prosecution. Thus, we need to view this predicament more broadly, in the context of the critique of drug policy, where the most important problem is the criminalization of drug use;
  • The National Probation Agency does not process the information on how many times it has addressed the Ministry of Internal Affairs on drug use-related matters. As a result, control strategies are unpublished, and their scale remains unclear;
  • An individual cannot independently apply to the Standing Commission of the National Probation Agency with a request to revoke a probation sentence and remove a conviction. In this process, the Head of the Probation Bureau exercises unjustified discretion and the decision-making is not transparent;
  • The Standing Commission decides on the termination of probation, as well as the early restoration of the rights in relation to drug-related offenses, and the reduction of the term of deprivation of the rights, without a hearing, which is contrary to the principle of transparency;
  • Access to social workers and psychologists in the probation system is largely limited, including in geographical terms;
  • The National Probation Agency probation officers, social workers, and psychologists sustain a high caseload;
  • There is a clear disproportion in the probation system between the representation of social workers and psychologists on the one hand and that of probation officers, on the other, in favor of the latter. This points to the evident shortage of care and support approaches in the probation system;
  • The existing allocation of resources in the National Probation Agency is not based on specific methodological documents, which is essential for evaluating the effectiveness of its work;
  • For the purposes of the resocialization and rehabilitation of probationers, the involvement of social workers and psychologists in the risk and needs assessment process is limited, and the probation officer exercises the leading capacity;
  • The involvement of the beneficiaries in the process of developing an individually tailored plan is minimized. They also do not have the opportunity to request an in-depth study and evaluation of their social status and personal characteristics (dynamic factors);
  • With regard to probationers, unlike ex-prisoners, the responsibilities of the National Probation Agency are less concrete in terms of providing social support and empowerment services;
  • The number of ex-prisoners who applied to the National Probation Agency for appropriate assistance is small, indicating the need for more awareness-raising and other efforts on the part of the Agency;
  • There are no specialization modules for the staff of the National Probation Agency, which would provide them with more knowledge of the context and properties of a drug crime;
  • The National Probation Agency does not carry out active research activities to analyze the social characteristics of probationers and to develop pertinent policies based on them;
  • In general, on many critical issues (such as recidivism by probationers, imposition of duties other than reporting once a week, etc.), research, statistics- and analytics- based activities at the


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