Citing prison overcrowding, group urges reform to rehabilitate minor drug users

The All Party Parliamentary Group Malaysia for the Reform of All Places of Detention (APPGM) has called for the country to reconstruct the current prison system into a rehabilitative one to better manage drug offenders.

In an interview with Astro Awani on their Consider This talk show, lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo from the group said prisons are already “running over 200 per cent over capacity” and that 60 per cent of inmates were incarcerated for minor drug offences.

“To address that, you would be looking into an entire policy reform and that must translate into legislation.

“Currently, our drug laws for possession, even for use, send you straight into prison and that is not the answer,” she said during the interview.

She also added that incarceration does not address the issue of drug abuse in the country.

When asked if there were other instruments to deal with overcrowding prisons, Sangeet said the Prison Act 1995 provided for such options, such as early release and parole for minor offenders.

However, Sangeet felt there were “bottlenecks” and the prisons needed help.

“That would involve a network of government agencies stepping in to ensure reintegration into the community, which is an essential element in crime prevention,” she was quoted saying.

Sangeet continued to say that the pardons board system, which relates to the King’s discretion to grant a pardon, is not very transparent and explained that there was no fixed system or timing for the board to sit and address these issues.

“So, you could end up waiting years and years for your pardon to be considered.

“That in itself is rather ineffective and there is no real system,” she said. MM

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