KUALA LUMPUR: Deputy Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ismail Mohamed told the Dewan Rakyat that more than 51,123 individuals comprising prison inmates and Prisons Department staff, including babies, have contracted Covid-19 since last year.
“This includes the nine babies who were born in prison,” he said to a supplementary question by RSN Rayer (PH-Jelutong) on whether the authorities will vaccinate prison inmates.
Rayer said many ongoing court trials had been postponed due to positive Covid-19 cases detected, adding that prisoners, as well as others there, should receive vaccines.
Ismail, in response, said the Home Ministry ensured that prisoners were vaccinated.
“The Home Ministry has ensured all its staff and inmates in prisons will receive the vaccine shots,” he added.
Ismail told the House according to latest statistics by the Prisons Department, there was evidence of overcrowding in prisons across the country, where the total number of inmates stood at 69,507 individuals as of Aug 25, indicating that prisons were overcrowded by 13.5%.
The Prisons Department had taken several steps to reduce overcrowding, among them including relocating inmates to other less crowded prisons.
He added that 13 camps under the National Service Training Programme have been converted into satellite prisons to reduce congestion and Covid-19 infections.
New prisoners are presently quarantined at satellite prisons before being sent to the prisons to begin their sentences.
The department has set up transit centres at prisons to place low-risk convicts and detainees in order to reduce overcrowding, he added.
Meanwhile, Ismail also said two-thirds of convicts are qualified to carry out their respective sentences outside prison under its community rehabilitation programme.
Earlier this year, Prisons Department director-general Datuk Seri Zulkifli Omar had said that the government is targeting two-thirds of its low-risk prisoners to serve part of their sentences outside jail by 2030.