The Slovenia Times

Community Service Increasingly Popular


Community service can be mandated under the minor offences act as an alternative to a fine or to imprisonment for failure to pay a fine, as well as under the penal code in lieu of a fine or a custodial sentence of up to two years.

According to Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, over 95% of persons who are given community order are those who have been convicted of misdemeanour. Under the minor offences act, community service can take between 40 and 400 hours.

While the proportion of those who do community service in place of imprisonment for crime carrying up to two years in jail is small, they may take the "available post" for a longer period of time (two hours of work equal a day in prison), so "waiting times" for such service are getting longer, the ministry says.

The number of those who are given community service has been on the increase since 2009 when the measure was put in place. The figure stood at 2,589 in 2010, and rose to 3,842 the year later and to 4,103 in 2012. The figure fell to 3,602 last year, but only due to lack of budget funding.

Providing community service entails a considerable cost for the Labour Ministry, considering that it reimburses "workers" involved in community service for travel and lunch expenses as well as pays for their insurance and in some cases covers the costs of work safety training.

The ministry's calculations show the average annual cost per person performing community service exceeded EUR 150 in the last two years. The ministry allocated more than EUR 620,000 for 4,103 people involved in community service in 2012 and almost EUR 550,000 for 3,602 people last year.

While community service is costly for the taxpayer, the ministry estimates that between 30% and 40% of work done as alternative sentence is not completed successfully. Some give up the service before the work is done, or fail to stick to agreement with the organisation providing the work.

The 62 social work centres in Slovenia are obligated to arrange for work for everyone for whom the court orders community service. This often entails helping with cleaning, redecorating, taking care of various premises, maintenance, grass cutting and such.

A total of 921 organisations enabled convicts to perform community service in 2011. Most of these were municipality offices, primary schools, parish offices, sports and youth centres, care homes, libraries, charities or even institutions such as puppet theatres, museums, hospitals or kindergartens.


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