KAJANG: The government may consider setting up privately-managed prisons to solve the overcrowding problem in Malaysian jails, says Datuk Mohd Azis Jamman.
The Deputy Home Minister said he had seen how privately-managed prisons were run in a recent working trip to the United Kingdom, and has tasked the Prisons Department to look into the feasibility of having similar facilities here.
“Hopefully, this would help us minimise overcrowding in our own jails, as well as the stress on government coffers.
“Maintaining and managing prisons is expensive as we also need to consider operational costs as well as the welfare of both staff members and inmates, ” he said at the closing ceremony of the Prison Reform Colloquium at the Prison Department headquarters here Friday (Nov 22).
If private prisons prove to be a feasible solution, Azis said they are likely to house low-to-medium risk inmates.
In his speech, Azis said Malaysia’s 38 prisons can only hold about 52,000 inmates and the jails are now at 40% overcapacity.
He added that the government has started implementing the parole and Compulsory Attendance Order systems as a means of reducing overcrowding in prisons.
Separately, Azis said the government will work to upgrade the Seremban, Pengkalan Chepa and Batu Gajah prisons next year to meet new standards.
He said the prisons – located in Negri Sembilan, Kelantan and Perak respectively – are among the six that are still using the “bucket system” for sanitation.
“Many MPs have voiced their concern about upgrading the facilities in these prisons and I believe we are making progress by starting with these three, ” he said.
Azis said he would continue to pressure the government to allocate funds to upgrade three others in Taiping, Muar and Penang.
“We are made to understand that those prison buildings are very old and cannot be safely repaired so we will put it to the government to consider rebuilding these prisons, ” he said.
This story is exclusively For StarBiz Premium subscribers only.