GEORGE TOWN: The 170-year-old Penang Remand Prison is overcrowded and struggling to accommodate the 1,600 inmates housed there currently.
Penang Remand Prison director Asst Comm Tey Hock Soon said its capacity was only for 1,100 inmates but currently, this was already 45% above the limit.
“We cannot reduce the number of inmates as they are sent here by the court. We cannot transfer the inmates to other prisons, too, as this is a remand prison.
“The other prisons are for
those who have already been convicted, ” he told reporters after the distribution of Deepavali cookies by charity groups in Gaol Road yesterday.
He said each cell could usually take a maximum of three inmates.
“But sometimes, we have to place five to six inmates in a cell.
“This means that they are prone to illnesses.
“We also have issues with inmates fighting among themselves. It’s harder to control when there are more of them.
“Another problem is insufficient facilities and basic needs to meet the demand, ” he said.
ACP Tey said in 2017, the overcrowding was even worse as the inmate count reached 2,200.
“Now, it is not as bad. We have 345 personnel and staff to handle the situation, ” he said.
ACP Tey said the overcrowding was mainly due to many drug addicts and repeat offenders.
“We hope that those who have been released do not return.
“There are many relapse cases, especially drug addicts.
“We also hope that the local NGOs can organise more talks and activities that can help to rehabilitate the inmates and ensure they do not return to jail.
“The NGOs can also rehabilitate the prisoners once they have been released, ” he said.
The Penang Remand Prison was built in 1849.