CoA blames jail overcrowding on drug cases, slow courts

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THE COMMISSION on Audit (CoA) has found that the total jail population was 111,046 in 2018, far exceeding the “ideal” capacity of Philippine prisons of only 25,268.

According to CoA’s audit report on the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), state auditors said the overcrowding violates the BJMP Manual on Habitat, Water, Sanitation, and Kitchen in Jails which states that the ideal habitable floor area per inmate is 4.7 square meters, 10 inmates per cell, and 5 units of two-level bunk beds.

The auditors noted that the overpopulation in jails is due to the increasing number of drug-related cases and the slow progress of cases through the judicial system.

“The jail populations for the years increases in various months attributed to the increase in the number of drug-related cases in the country as well as the court’s slow or no action on the pending cases due to lack of judges, postponement of hearings and the slow disposition of criminal cases that carry the penalty of reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment,” CoA said.

CoA reported that Region 9 had the most crowded jails last year with an overcapacity of 4,943, relative to its ideal population of 766.

However, CoA said the BJMP’s Good Conduct Time Allowance gives inmates leave to attend various activities inside prison, helping make them more productive. The activities include livelihood training, alternative learning sessions, and the like.

According to the report, BJMP is working with the Supreme Court to initiate programs that would help decongest jails.

One of this is the Katatagan Kontra Droga sa Komunindad (KKDK) program to serve as an in-house intervention program for detainees facing illegal drug charges.

“Should this program be approved by the Supreme Court as substitute ‘compliant rehabilitation program’… it will be easier for PDL [persons deprived of liberty] to comply with the requirements and for the court to issue orders since there is already an intervention being undertaken by the BJMP,” CoA said, quoting the BJMP. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras