SIBU: The Sibu Central Prison has for the first time granted a seven-day licensed prisoner release (PBSL) involving five inmates in conjunction with the Christmas celebration.
Its director Azhar Ahmad said on Tuesday (Dec 24) that the programme was one of the ways of rehabilitating prisoners through the involvement of the community, especially their family members.
"The objective of the programme is to enable the prisoners to be with the family, to find a job or to plan for their future before being they are released, and more importantly, for them to be able to celebrate Christmas with the family this year.
"These prisoners will be brought home by their family members, and this will indirectly help them rebuild family relationships after not seeing each other for a long time," he told reporters at the program.
He said the release was granted under Section 43 of the Prisons Act 1995 for eligible prisoners who fulfilled the conditions prescribed.
Among the conditions stipulated is that the prisoner must have served their jail sentence of not less than four years and have a remaining sentence of less than one year.
"These prisoners are granted temporary release licenses based on the application of their family members, and not from the prisoners themselves.
"Before applications are accepted, there must be recommendations from prison rehabilitation officers, psychologists, doctors, and the prisoners must also have a good track record. Once all these are met, we will submit this application to the department Director-General for approval," he said.
According to Azhar, the prisoners will return on Dec 30 to serve the balance of their sentence.
He added that during the interim release period, prisoners would be monitored by parole officers to ensure that the regulations under the PBSL programme were complied with.
Fit (not the real name), 30, one of the inmates granted the licensed release, was grateful to be given the opportunity to celebrate Christmas with his family this year.
"I really miss my mum's cooking, especially her 'rendang' and 'ketupat'. I will make sure that I spend the seven days with the whole family," she said.
Another inmate, Aisyah, 33, couldn't wait to meet her son. She was also anxious to cook for him the variety of dishes she learned during her six years in prison.
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