Considering the congestion in prisons that has drastically increased during the past two months, with a substantial number being remanded over narcotics-related activities, a presidential pardon has been granted to 444 prisoners in 28 prisons, the Prison Department said.
Among the 426 males and 18 females who were released, 83 -- 79 males and four females were from the Welikada Prison.
Inmates from Magazine, Colombo Remand, Ambepussa, Anuradhpura, Badulla, Batticaloa, Bogambara, Boossa, Pallansena, Galle, Jaffna, Kadurugas Ara, Kalurata, Kuruwita, Mahara, Matara, Monaragala, Negombo, Pallakale, Polonnaruwa, Thaldena, Agunukolapelessa, Trincomalee, Wariyapola, Vavuiya, Wataraka, Wirawila were the others to be released.
Meanwhile, according to Prisons Chief Thushara Upuldeniya, more than 6,000 people related to drug offences have been jailed during the past two months resulting in prison congestion.
He said the prisons could accomadate only 11,762 inmates but there are currently more than 29,500 and highlighted the dearth of prison guards.
“We have prepared a five-year plan to address the issues of congestion in prisons and lack of officials. We hope to present it to the relevant authorities by next week,” Mr. Upuldeniya said. “In respect to the congestion in Prisons, we have decided to introduce an alternative rehabilitation system for drug addicts and kept separately.”
Meanwhile, according Prisons Department statistics, direct admission of convicted and drug offenders was 44,287 in 2019. (Sheain Fernandopulle)