Detained De Lima files bills for prison reform

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 06 2019 04:06 PM

MANILA - Detained Sen. Leila de Lima has filed 2 bills that seek to improve rehabilitation programs for inmates and streamline the country's correctional system.

De Lima's Senate Bill No. 180 or the "Prison Reform Act of 2019" proposes to create a diagnostics center and an intervention office in each penal facility to continually assess inmates' needs and productivity.

These offices should also provide training programs that would help inmates gain skills they could use after serving their sentence.

"This bill recognizes that imprisonment is not a lifetime chain that would eternally bind prisoners in the dark," De Lima, who supervised the Bureau of Corrections during her time as justice secretary, said in a statement.

"The State shall take steps towards reforming them by affording them assistance in seeking for jobs and housing once they are released back into society," she said.

The policy would also professionalize employees under the penal system and "legislate the standards of humane treatment of the inmates."

Meantime, Senate Bill No. 181 or the "Unified Corrections and Jail Management System Act of 2019" seeks to place all prisons and jails in the country under a single agency that would be called the "National Commission on Corrections and Jail Management" (NCCJM).

Under the current system, prisons are under the supervision of the Bureau of Corrections, while detention facilities are handled by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.

"Not only is the bill pushing for unification of the administration or management of prisons and jails, with integrated services and programs, it is also seeking to regionalize the facilities and correctional services," De Lima said.

"It is hoped that this will help decongest our detention centers and prisons,” she said.

De Lima, a fierce administration critic, has been detained at the police headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City since February 2017 for alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade at the national penitentiary when she was still justice chief.

She has denied the allegations, saying they were part of political persecution.