KUALA LUMPUR (March 8): The government is formulating a new law, the Drug and Substance Abuse (Treatment and Rehabilitation) Act, in an effort to reduce overcrowding in prisons, the Dewan Rakyat was told on Wednesday (March 8).
Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said the law is being drafted and expected to be tabled this year.
"When this law has been passed by the Dewan Rakyat, then the Dewan Negara, and gazetted for implementation cases like self-administration of drugs, [an offender] will be directly sent for the rehabilitation programme under the National Anti-Drug Agency (AADK).
"At the treatment institution under AADK, [under the new law,] the offender will be placed for two years, and then for another two years at community rehabilitation centres.
“If the offender is sent to community rehabilitation centres, it will be for three years. Under the existing laws, the offender may end up in jail,” he added.
Saifuddin Nasution was responding to a question from Wong Chen (Pakatan Harapan-Subang) about the government's commitment to decriminalising minor drug offences in an effort to reduce the prison population in the country.
“They are 39 prisons in the country, with 74,459 remand detainees and convicts, while the actual capacity of our prisons is only around 65,000 people,” he said.
He also told Parliament that his ministry had implemented several measures to reduce overcrowding in prisons, including by giving parole, a compulsory attendance order and release on licence to offenders.
Through these initiatives, the government was able to save about RM17 million last year, he added.
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