Eleven women have had their jail penalties commuted to non-custodial sentences since the start of the year, Attorney General Dr Ali Al Buainain announced yesterday.
They were all due to be imprisoned having been found guilty of criminal offences, but were spared jail at the request of the Public Prosecution.
Instead they were handed alternative sentences such as community service or completion of rehabilitation programmes.
The move was made possible by the Alternative Punishments Law, the implementation of which was announced by the attorney general earlier this year.
“The Alternative Punishments Law has several advantages, including helping reduce overcrowding in jails,” said Dr Al Buainain.
“Defendants can be monitored or banned from places that could lead them to commit crime.
“In some cases they will be ordered to compensate victims, so damage caused by their crimes is resolved.
“They can also join community service initiatives and this will help convicts and their families, since their freedom will not be restricted.
“Judges will decide if defendants can have alternative punishments, rather than spending time behind bars.
“Of course, if a defendant is deemed not dangerous or the chance of them repeating the offence is slim they will be given an alternative punishment.
“This new law is very important to legislation in Bahrain and will benefit people.”
One female convict spared jail was a woman originally sentenced to a month in prison for assaulting a bus driver, who she accused of molesting her son.
She was instead sentenced to community service.
Alternative punishments can only be applied for crimes that carry jail terms of no more than one year, with the support of the Public Prosecution.
However, those sentenced to between one and five years in jail can be alternatively held under house arrest if their medical condition requires it.
Meanwhile, prison wardens can recommend inmates for alternative punishments after they complete half their sentence – if they have a history of good conduct, are not a risk to public security and have settled any outstanding debts.
Prisoners can also request alternative punishments when they complete two thirds of their jail term.
However, convicts who try to avoid carrying out alternative punishments face up to two years in jail and a fine of BD200, while anyone helping them cheat the system faces the same punishment.