Dept looking at using e-device for inmates to prevent overcrowding at prisons

Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar

Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar

PETALING JAYA: The Prisons Department is looking at using Electronic Monitoring Devices to prevent overcrowding of prisons by placing inmates on bail or parole under "home detention".

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said a study was currently under way to determine the feasibility of EMDs as part of the department's rehabilitation programme.

“The study covers the use of EMDs in several countries to determine its effectiveness if used by authorities here.

The department will submit its proposal to the ministry before it is fine-tuned for the Cabinet’s approval,” he told The Star yesterday.

The study would also determine the number of devices needed by the department and the cost.

He said the issue over the use of EMDs was complex as it would require amendments to current laws.

“It is not merely about inmates putting on the device, as it involves the jurisdiction of the Prisons Department and the powers of the courts with regard to making an order for it to be used,” he added.

He said the proposal to extend the use of EMDs for inmates on parole or bail was raised by lawmakers in Parliament last year when debating the use of the device to keep track of suspected gang members detained under the Prevention of Crime Act (Poca) and the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma).

He said a similar provision was contained in the Prevention of Terrorism Bill, which is being debated in the Dewan Negara after getting the nod from lawmakers in the lower house.

Dr Wan Junaidi expects the study to be completed and presented to the Cabinet for approval by the end of this year.

Department deputy director-general Datuk Hassan Sakimon said it had yet to be determined who should wear the device and be placed under home detention.

He said if an inmate out on bail was required to wear the device, he or she need not report to a prison officer on specific dates like what was happening now.

“The device will be able to detect the movement and location of the inmate and also alert prison authorities if the individual has breached the conditions of the home arrest," he said.

He added that such a move could better help rehabilitate inmates while allowing them to be accepted again by society.

Based on the International Centre for Prison Studies, there are 47,986 inmates at 35 correctional facilities nationwide as of mid-June last year.

The number of prisoners is above the 32,000 capacity of the 35 correctional facilities.

Of this total, 24.8% are pre-trial and remand prisoners, 7.4% female prisoners, 2.2% juvenile and young prisoners and 34.7% foreign prisoners.