A new criminal sanction, monitoring sentence, was introduced in Finland on 1 November 2011. Offenders serving a monitoring sentence live at their homes but they are monitored during the sentence by technical and other means.
As regards its severity, the monitoring sentence is placed between community service and unconditional imprisonment in the criminal sanctions system. It can be used to replace some short unconditional prison sentences and it can be imposed for at most six months.
The principle is that a monitoring sentence can be imposed if it is regarded to promote the offender’s social coping and contribute to the prevention of further offences. Possible prior unconditional prison sentences and the nature of the offence may prevent the imposition of a monitoring sentence. In addition, the monitoring sentence requires that the residence of the sentenced offender is suitable for the enforcement of the sentence and that the people living in the same residence give their consent to it.
Sentenced persons serving a monitoring sentence are obliged to follow the daily programme approved in the enforcement plan. The daily programme can include work, education, rehabilitation, activity programmes or other activity improving the sentenced person’s situation.
The sentenced person is obliged to stay in his or her residence if he or she does not have a reason determined in the enforcement plan to leave the residence. The sentenced person is allowed to move outside his or her residence only in a specified area. The monitoring sentence also requires total abstinence from intoxicating substances. In addition to technical monitoring, the authorities supervise the serving of the sentence by visiting the sentenced person’s residence and workplace without informing him or her about it beforehand. The abstinence from substances is supervised with the help of breath and drug tests when needed.
A continuous or serious breach of the conditions of the monitoring sentence leads to the sentence being converted into unconditional imprisonment.