PBBM: Corrections system upgrade will address overcrowded jails
BY JOCELYN MONTEMAYOR and ASHZEL HACHERO
PRESIDENT Marcos Jr. yesterday batted for the streamlining and digitalization of the country’s justice and corrections system to reduce delays and ensure swift and fair legal proceedings, and to accelerate the decongestion of jails nationwide.
In his speech during the National Jail Decongestion Summit (NJDS) that was read by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, the President urged the Justice Sector Coordinating Council (JSCC) to fast-track improvement in its frontline and back-end services as part of its nationwide jail decongestion efforts.
“By embracing technology and innovative practices, we can enhance our efficiency, reduce delays, and ensure swift and fair legal proceedings,” said Marcos, who is in isolation for five days after contracting the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The President said the summit demonstrates the commitment of the entire government to expedite the processing of criminal cases and alleviate the chronic problem of jail congestion.
“Indeed, it would require a whole-of-government approach to ensure the efficient, effective, and compassionate administration of justice in the country,” he added.
The summit brings together legal experts, government agencies, international organizations, and advocates. It seeks to open discussions on the establishment of new policies and initiatives to expedite the processing of criminal cases and ease the crowding of jails throughout the country.
Among current efforts to decongest jails include the annual recommendation of executive clemency to qualified inmates or persons deprived of liberty (PDLs).
Data from the Board of Pardons and Parole show that from July 2022 to October 2023, 856 PDLs have been recommended for executive clemency, which includes the 794 who had been recommended for commutation of sentence, one for absolute pardon, and 61 for conditional pardon without parole condition.
As of December 2021, there are 199,079 PDLs in jails supervised by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP). Seventy percent of these BJMP detention facilities are already overcrowded, with an average congestion rate of 386 percent.
The Quezon City Male Dormitory is