Jails across the country are overcrowded by an average of 370 percent, according to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).
Meanwhile, Rizal Rep. Juan Fidel Nograles cited a project meant to put up libraries in jails as part of the rehabilitation of persons deprived of liberty (PDLs).
In a televised public briefing, BJMP spokesman Javier Bustinera hinted that it was a huge improvement, saying the jail congestion rate used to be 600 percent.
In July 2022, Interior and Local Government Secretary Benhur Abalos Jr. said the congestion rate at the BJMP was 387% as of June 2022.
To address the problem, Bustinera said the BJMP was building bigger jails and releasing more inmates through the good conduct time allowance (GCTA).
On Tuesday, the BJMP launched a program meant to set up libraries in selected jails to boost its rehabilitation program for the prisoners or PDLs.
According to Bustinera, reading in the jail library would contribute to the GCTA of prisoners.
“I laud the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology for this project.
With the help of this library project, our PDLs will be given the opportunity to learn and become more productive members of society,” Nograles said.
The BJMP, in partnership with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, this week launched the project, dubbed Read Your Way Out.
Advancing Prison Reform through Libraries for Lifelong Learning in Places of Detention.”
So far, thirteen jails across the country will be provided with books and the necessary basic equipment to build their respective libraries. The libraries are scheduled to be launched this month.
The libraries will contain legal resources (20 percent), vocational resources (30 percent), fiction and nonfiction (40 percent), and children’s books for family visitors (10 percent). The lawmaker emphasized the importance of providing opportunities for education to PDLs.
The Harvard-trained lawyer also said that the UN’s Nelson Mandela Rules require the establishment of a library for prisoners. Nograles, a legal aid advocate, added the launching of the project also puts the spotlight on the plight of the country’s jails and the lack of facilities. The Philippines has a long-standing problem with jail congestion.
According to a study commissioned by the Philippines’ Justice Sector Coordinating Council (JSCC), as of the end of 2021, 70 percent of BJMP facilities have been overcrowded, with an average congestion rate of 386 percent, while the Bureau of Corrections’ facilities have a congestion rate of 310 percent.