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Conscientious objectors may soon avoid prison

Total service objectors could soon avoid jail thanks to a new law putting short-term convicts under house arrest. Finnish law enforcement officials plan to use electronic ankle bracelets to monitor convicts serving time at home.

Jalkapantaa kiinnitetään.
Jalkapanta on yhteydessä valvontarangaistusta kärsivän kotona olevaan vastaanottimeen. Image: Yle

“This is the first time that an option other than prison is made available to conscientious objectors,” says Kaj Raninen from the Finnish Union of Conscientious Objectors.

Raninen, however, adds that house arrest does not solve broader human rights issues regarding Finland's conscription system.

Conscientious objectors are individuals declining both military and civilian service. They are sentenced to approximately six months in prison for their refusal to serve.

People under surveillance may not come and go as they please, but most stick to strict schedules. Breaking curfew sets off an alarm and may land the convict behind bars.

As of November, those serving sentences of up to six months may qualify for house arrest. The new law will bring significant savings for the state, as home detention carries one third of the cost of a regular prison term.

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