Govt mulling rehabilitation of drug offenders in bid to reduce prison congestion, says minister

Legal Affairs Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong (centre) at Parliament March 19, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Legal Affairs Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong (centre) at Parliament March 19, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

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KUALA LUMPUR, April 3 — The government is considering the rehabilitation of prisoners, especially drug offenders in efforts to reduce congestion in prisons, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong.

He said the proposal was one of the measures that could be taken to reform the prisons and lock-up systems in the country as well as to minimise the cost of handling prison institutions.

“Of the 66,222 prisoners in the country, 56 per cent are involved with drugs. After they return from serving their sentences, 99 per cent will go back to using drugs due to the stigma that society does not accept them.           

“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 Member of Parliament Nurul Izzah Anwar on the need for hygiene and health management in prisons nationwide to be standardised for the welfare of prisoners.

Nurul Izzah as a guest on Bernama Radio talk show programme ‘Ala Carte Pagi’, here, said the standardisation was necessary to ensure that prisoners had access to health services and clean environment despite serving a sentence.

She also touched on a private motion on the reform of the prison and lock-up system which will be discussed internally before being submitted to the Home Ministry to be tabled in Parliament.

According to Nurul Izzah, the discussion will be headed by Liew involving 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 lock-ups 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 a 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. — Bernama

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