Department recruits 74,000 prison inmates

Department recruits 74,000 prison inmates

Prisoners to work at ministry-run estate

The Department of Corrections has recruited about 74,000 prisoners convicted of committing minor crimes to work at its industrial park with electronic bracelets in a bid to reduce overcrowding in prisons across the kingdom.

Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin said yesterday the Department of Corrections has reduced overcrowding in prisons -- from over 300,000 to about 280,000 inmates -- by providing thousands of prisoners convicted of committing minor crimes with temporary leave permits to work outside correctional facilities.

Mr Somsak said 74,000 inmates permitted to go outside are those with light penalties and special permits. They will be monitored via electronic monitoring bracelets, he said.

He said the department has also taken care of former inmates to help prevent them from committing crimes again by creating jobs in the agriculture, livestock and astrology sectors at an industrial estate which the department developed with the private sector to create opportunities.

The department will select 16,000 of the 74,000 inmates to work at the estate and they are expected to receive 331-baht in daily wages, Mr Somsak said.

Also, the ministry has proposed to amend 10 laws to help ease overcrowding in prisons, he said, noting that seven of them -- the narcotics code, narcotics law, kratom law, crime recommitment prevention law, physical torture prevention law, juvenile criminal law and witness protection law -- are under way and projected to take effect during this government's term.

Mr Somsak said that as for the budget plan for next year, he has discussed with other ministry divisions using 10 billion baht from luxury car tax evasion cases to hire 100 workers to assist Department of Special Investigation officials and hire members of the private sector to take charge of operations and mediation in other cases.

He also said the Department of Corrections was pushing draft legislation, the "Repeated Crime Prevention for Serious Crime Offender Bill". "With this law, these offenders would have to wear electronic monitoring bracelets and parole officers will check regularly on them after they are released from jail," Mr Somsak said. It is unclear whether the law would lead to a big expansion in electronic bracelets as a monitoring device.

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