Sri Lanka mulls house arrests as prisons exceed capacity by 184 percent

Sri Lanka mulls house arrests as prisons exceed capacity by 184 percent

Sri Lanka mulls house arrests as prisons exceed capacity by 184 percent

Written by Hassaan Shazuli

29 Oct, 2020 | 5:46 pm

COLOMBO (News1st) Sri Lanka’s prisons department is mulling alternative punishments such as house arrests, as prisons exceeded their capacity by a staggering 184.6 percent in 2019, a government report showed.

The overpopulation of prisons last year was the highest in at least two decades, according to available data, and has caused “depression” among inmates and affected rehabilitation.

Based on the percentage, the country’s prison institutions that can hold 11,762 prisoners, had around 33,470 prisoners by December last year.

“…unnecessary remand population has been identified as one of the reasons for the overcrowding in prisons,” the department of prisons said adding that only one in four inmates are convicted.

It also cited the increase in individuals imprisoned for drug-related offences as a reason for this growing problem.

“46.4 percent of convicted prisoners are incarcerated for dangerous drug offences and 62.4 percent…for drug-related offences,” the prisons department pointed out.

To resolve this problem, the prisons’ authority is planning to pump Rs 19.2 billion to relocate and expand prisons and to also construct a drug rehabilitation centre.

The Welikada Closed Prison, Colombo Remand Prison, New Magazine Prison and the prisons in Bogambara, Trincomalee and Matara are to be relocated in the coming years.

The money is also to be used to construct a new drug rehabilitation centre at Weerawila.

As a solution, the department is also considering early release schemes and removing certain clauses in the country’s criminal law.

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