Minister: MCO offenders to be housed in correctional academies to prevent prison overcrowding; normal jail rules apply

Police round up detainees who flouted the movement control order at the Butterworth Court Complex in Penang March 31, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Police round up detainees who flouted the movement control order at the Butterworth Court Complex in Penang March 31, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

KUALA LUMPUR, April 15 — The Malaysia Prison Department’s correctional academies will be gazetted as new detention centres for those who breach the movement control order (MCO), in a bid to prevent overcrowding of prisons, Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said today.

While the government previously issued compound or fines of RM1,000 to MCO flouters to avoid crowding at the courts and prisons, Ismail Sabri stressed that the police will no longer compromise or tolerate any individual who still stubbornly refuse to comply with the MCO.

As the authorities take harsher action against those who breach the MCO, Ismail Sabri said that too many individuals were being arrested for such offences and that this could result in overcrowding in prisons.

“When brought to court, and the court gives out jail sentences, there is an issue of the prisons being overcrowded and certainly social distancing can’t be practised.

“Therefore, the meeting yesterday decided that the Home Ministry will gazette 13 prison academies as new detention centres for offenders who breach the MCO and other related offences. As we have 13 correctional academies, we will convert them to prison or detention centres for offenders who breach the MCO, we can solve issues related to social distancing,” he said in a press conference broadcast “live” today.

Ismail Sabri however said those who flout the MCO should not expect luxurious treatment at these new detention centres, noting that they will be bound by the same rules as prisons.

“Although the correctional academies are to be detention centres, the rules and laws are the same as normal prisons. It does not mean that when you enter these detention centres, the food will be luxurious, no, it will still be bound by normal prison SOP,” he said, adding that further details relating to the law on this will be discussed between the Malaysian Prison Department, the police and the Attorney-General.

Since the MCO started on March 18 until yesterday, a total of 9,702 individuals have been arrested for breaching the MCO.

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