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  • Interpretation
  • No.677
  • Date
  • 2010/05/14
  • Issue
    • Is the provision that prisoners may be released before noon of the next day after the enforcement of prison terms has been fulfilled under Article 83, Paragraph 1 of the Prison Act unconstitutional?
  • Holding
    •     On the part that prisoners shall be released at noon of the next day since the expiration of the prison terms under Article 83 Section 1 of the Prison Act, it causes the prisoners to remain detained after the enforcement of the prison term is fulfilled without proper procedure and infringes on the prisoners’ physical liberty, and violates due process of law.  Such means by restricting the prisoners’ physical liberty is not necessary, and contravenes Articles 8 and 23 of the Constitution. The part of the statute not in consistent with this Interpretation shall be invalid as of June 1, 2010. The related governmental agencies shall promptly implement appropriate regulations on the release of prisoners in accordance with this Interpretation. Before the statute is amended, prisoners shall be released before noon on the day their prison terms are ended. 
      
    •     On the part of the petition that concerns the interim disposition under Article 83, Paragraph 1 of the Prison Act, since it is no longer necessary to take that measure in light of this Interpretation, it is hereby dismissed.
      
  • Reasoning
    •     Article 8, Paragraph 1 of the Constitution stipulates: “Personal freedom shall be guaranteed to the people.  Except in case of flagrante delicto as provided by law, no person shall be arrested or detained otherwise than by a judicial or a police organ in accordance with the procedure prescribed by law.  No person shall be tried or punished otherwise than by a law court in accordance with the procedure prescribed by law.  Any arrest, detention, trial, or punishment which is not in accordance with the procedure prescribed by law may be resisted.”  The statutory procedure prescribed under this Article means any measure that limits the personal freedom, regardless of whether the status being a criminal defendant.  In addition to statutory authorization, it can be imposed only after necessary judicial procedure and other due process of law being followed through respectively, and confirms to Article 23 of the Constitution (see J. Y. Interpretation Nos. 384 and 588 ) 
      
    •     On the part of the stipulation under Article 83, Paragraph 1 of the Prison Act, “[h]aving served the term of imprisonments … [prisoners] shall be released at noon of the next day since the end of the prison terms[,]” (hereinafter the disputed provision) it was an expedient measure legislated against the backdrop of administrative difficulties for night time operations at the prison, provided that the transportation means were not convenient to and from the prison in the past, rendering it difficult to force the prisoners to depart at late night. Therefore, the release operations did not start until the next morning during business hours after the enforcement of the prison term is fulfilled so that the transportation and personal safety of the prisoners can both be looked after (see Ministry of Justice Memorandum No. Fa Jio Zi No. 0990900962 (March 25, 2010) ).  However, under Article 65 of the Criminal Procedure Code: “The calculation of term shall be in accordance with the stipulations of the Civil Code.” As such, the calculation of prison terms is analogous to and shall apply, mutatis mutantis, Article 121, Paragraph 1 of the Civil Code, in that when a term is determined by a day, week, month or year, the end of the term shall be the end of the last day of that term.  Once the enforcement of the prison term is fulfilled, except otherwise with statutory justifications under the Constitution, the prisoners shall be released immediately so as not to contravene the protection of personal freedom under Article 8 of the Constitution.
      
    •     The state’s penal power over the prisoners extinguishes at the time the enforcement of the prison term is fulfilled. By having those prisoners who have fulfilled their imprisonments to be released before noon of the next day after the end of the prison terms, as stipulated by the disputed provision, is the continuous confinement of their personal freedom in a particular locale and is no different from the criminal penalty of depriving people’s personal freedom. Now that the disputed provision did not clearly stipulate the due process under which such quasi–penal limitations on personal freedom of a criminal defendant can be carried out, it contravenes the due process of law under Article 8 of the Constitution.  Separately, while the disputed provision has a justifiable purpose by taking into consideration the transportation and personal safety of the prisoners to postpone the release prior to noon of the next day after the enforcement of the prison term is fulfilled, the day the enforcement of the prison term is fulfilled does not necessarily mean to enforce the prison term literally until the midnight of that day. Therefore, by releasing the prisoners before noon of the day their prison terms are ended neither violates the tenet of fulfilling the enforcement of the imprisonment nor raises concerns over the prisoners’ transportation and personal safety.  It shows that the disputed provision is unnecessary and contravenes the  principle of proportionality under Article 23 of the Constitution.  The part of the disputed provision not in consistent with this Interpretation shall be invalid as of June 1, 2010. The related governmental agencies shall promptly implement appropriate regulations on the release of prisoner release in accordance with this Interpretation. Before the statute is amended, prisoners shall be released before noon on the day their prison terms are ended. 
      
    •     On the part of the petition that concerns the interim disposition under the disputed provision, since it is no longer necessary to take that measure in light of this Interpretation, it is hereby dismissed.
      
    • Translated by Fort Fu-Te Liao.
      
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