Senator bats for more humane treatment of prisoners

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Monday, June 30, 2014


SENATOR Antonio Trillanes IV is pushing for the passage of Senate Bill 793 or the Jail Integration bill, which proposes for an integrated prison and jail system that provides professionalism in the rehabilitation and treatment of prisoners.

"Throughout the country, the problem of congestion in jail facilities often leads to jail disturbance, escapes, substandard living conditions, poor sanitation and hygiene-related diseases, as the number of inmates in jails continue to increase. For this reason, an integrated prison and jail system is considered necessary to improve correctional services and solve the jail congestion problem nationwide," Trillanes said.

"We are promoting a just and humane society and to treat detainees like dogs is not the way to go. We have to improve our detention facilities and construct new ones to make sure that these detainees will not lose their dignity while in jail," he added.

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Trillanes made this call after people remonstrated against the special treatment being given to detained senators due to plunder raps. He explained that the treatment of the detained senators is the global standard of treatment to detainees.

According to him, we should, instead, pressure the government to level up the treatment of other detainees.

In a study conducted by the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT), it stressed that “herding individuals in cramped spaces is cruel, inhuman, ill, degrading, and unjust punishment.” It is not only dangerous to health but also breaks down discipline and exacerbates tensions where inmates have to constantly fight for air and space.

SB 793 particularly aims to integrate the existing penal system into one coordinated, highly efficient and competent office to be called Bureau of Correctional Services under the Department of Justice. This bureau shall be responsible for the proper maintenance of secure, adequately equipped and sanitary jails for the custody and safekeeping of prisoners. Any person who employs physical, psychological, inhuman or degrading punishment against any prisoner or detainee, or is responsible for the use of facilities under subhuman conditions shall be held administratively liable, in addition to whatever criminal liability he/she may incur.

In the said bill, classification and transfer of prisoners will be done, taking into account their age, incorrigibility or recidivism, gravity of the offense committed, penalty or sentence imposed on them, and such other factors as may help in determining to which jail they shall be properly and appropriately placed under custody, with the end in view of decongesting the jails and promoting the general welfare of the prisoners.

"We are obligated, not only by law but by international norms and morals to treat prisoners and detainees humanely, without discrimination and any other condition. It is our duty to help them in their reformation and assist them in their re-integration to the society," added Trillanes. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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