The government is considering the rehabilitation of certain prisoners, especially drug offenders, in an effort to reduce congestion in prisons, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Liew Vui Keong said today.
According to Liew, the proposal was one of the measures that could be taken to reform the prisons and lockup systems, as well as to minimise the cost of handling prison institutions.
“Of the 66,222 prisoners in the country, 56 percent are involved with drugs. After they return from serving their sentences, 99 percent will go back to using drugs due to social stigma.
“These are the things we need to overcome by treating them and not imprisoning them. Perhaps there should be a major rehabilitation centre that provides medical facilities,” he told Bernama when met at the Parliament lobby today.
He was commenting on the proposal by Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar on the need for hygiene and health management in prisons nationwide to be standardised for the welfare of prisoners.
Nurul had told Bernama Radio that standardisation was necessary to ensure that prisoners had access to health services and a clean environment, despite serving a sentence.
She also touched on a private motion on the reform of the prison and lockup system, which will be discussed internally before being submitted to the Home Ministry to be tabled in Parliament.
According to Nurul, the discussion will be headed by Liew and involve several related agencies, including the Prisons Department, and was expected to be held next Monday.
Commenting further, Liew said the full rehabilitation of prisoners would minimise the cost of managing prisons and lockups, as well as prevent drug offenders from going back to drugs.
“We can save the cost borne by the government to finance the prisoners, and use the savings to build specific rehabilitation centres, as well as provide medical assistance to prisoners undergoing rehabilitation for drug addiction,” he said.
Liew submitted to the Home Ministry which has the jurisdiction to handle the matter besides fully supporting the reform of the prison and lock-up system.