The Malta Sociological Association (MSA, registered Voluntary Organisation) has submitted its feedback to the Ministry for Home Affairs, National Security and Law Enforcement about the White Paper Towards a Modernised Corrective Legal System: The Government’s vision of having modern corrective systems, whilst safeguarding the victims of crime, Public Consultation on an Electronic Monitoring legislation.
In this regard, MSA welcomed the public consultation, adding that in moving towards modernised corrective legal system, there should be an ongoing process of social impact assessments. SIAs could provide valuable evidence for policy formation, the implementation and enforcement on electronic monitoring.
SIAs are recommended by MSA as they would give a holistic picture about various opportunities, risks, changes and impacts which take place across time and space. Such legislation will impact both the persons eligible for electronic monitoring as well as society at large. SIAs include a close insight about: how the eligible persons for electronic monitoring would feel wearing a tracker that could be visible; the impact of stigma; how society at large feels and behaves when encountering a person with a tracker; as well as how the co-workers and colleagues at educational institutions respond, amongst others.
Various methods, both quantitative and qualitative could be used within social impact assessments. The former refers to generalisable data especially through numbers, while the latter produce in-depth data on matters. Research methods in SIAs may therefore include, for example, quantitative perception surveys and qualitative methods which involve a deeper look into social realities.
Besides, expert interviews may verify the advice, concerns and interpretations of persons who are experts or who have experience in the respective field under analysis.
SIAs should involve the participation of different stakeholders, ideally through mixed research methods. Analytic indicators should be provided, and the entire process should be subject to peer review by independent experts in the field. This means that if a study is being carried out by a team of scientists (social, natural etc.), this should be scrutinised by other independent scientists. This could help identify shortcomings and possible improvements to the same SIA.
In its feedback, the MSA referred to international SIA