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A total of 482 prisoners, who have been languishing for years at Khulna Jail on minor convictions, will be released as per the directives of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, to ease overcrowding in the prison system.
The jail authorities prepared the list based on a set of parameters before sending it to Dhaka, recommending their release in phases subject to final approval. The directive in this regard will come soon, expects Jannatul Farhad, jailer of Khulna Jail, according to UNB report.
Earlier, Inspector General (Prisons) Brigadier General Syed Iftekharuddin disclosed 142 prisoners have been released from Sylhet Central Jail after completing all legal steps, with more to follow under the phased-out process.
Bangladesh’s long-overcrowded prison system has been stretched to breaking point in recent times, with the spike in arrests in light of the campaign to root out militancy, and even more following the intensified anti-narcotics drive that was rolled out last May.
Sources at the Department of Prisons told UNB the country's 68 jails can accommodate 36,614 prisoners. Usually, the jails house over 70,000 prisoners, about double the capacity. But as of June 24, the prison population had swelled to 83,350.
Earlier jail authorities had complained they were facing an uphill task to accommodate the growing number of prisoners, especially in the frontier districts, as those are overcrowded well above their capacity.
The most startling revelation in the numbers obtained from the Dept. of Prisons was that of the total as of June 24, over 35,000 were jailed on drug-related cases. Yet less than 1 in 7 of them, some 5,218, had actually been convicted in the cases. Around 19,000 were embroiled in some stage of the trial process, stretching out over years in many cases.
Close to 11,000 individuals imprisoned in drugs-related cases were yet to enter the trial, effectively putting their lives in limbo, even though a court may eventually find many of them were innocent.
Expediting the trial process for this population could see the burden on the prison system eased by thousands, making the kind of difference that authorities, inmates and all other stakeholders could really appreciate.