The Department of Corrections has suspended jail sentences for more than 8,000 inmates nationwide to ease overcrowding in prisons during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Pol Col Naras Savestanan, director-general of the Department of Corrections, said on Monday that he has sped up the process of granting suspended sentences or cutting the prison term for qualified inmates, including those facing minor offences and/or exhibiting good behaviour.
He said the number of inmates receiving suspended sentences for the period is twice the normal release rate.
A department source said no high-profile inmates or those who had committed serious crimes are eligible for suspended sentences.
Meanwhile, in Pathum Thani, 458 people imprisoned for violating the emergency decree between April 5-12 have been checked for symptoms of Covid-19 and confined to individual quarantine cells.
Pol Col Naras added that inmates exhibiting Covid-19-like symptoms who had recently been sent to Betong prison in Yala province for drug offences have tested negative for the disease.
In nearby Pattani, tests were performed on a number of sick inmates at the provincial prison after a quarantine period.
The department chief said there have no new Covid-19 infections among inmates since Monday. Two inmates and one prison officer who were infected are undergoing treatment, he said, although he did not say what prisons they are from. Prisons nationwide say they have maintained a high standard of hygiene, and wardens report they are constantly on the lookout for any inmates who fall sick.
From October 2019 to March, 7,890 inmates were granted suspended sentences. They were released in two batches per month, said Pol Lt Col Prawut Wongsrinil, deputy director-general of the corrections department.