Press Release
April 24, 2006

Death penalty not the issue, jail congestion is - Recto

50 % jump in jail population has shrunk cell space to 1.3 sqm per inmate Filthy and congested , Philippine jails and prisons remain a living hell for persons sent there to pay for their sins to society that a lifetime stay in one of them , according to Sen. Ralph Rectos , is a fate worse than death. .

Recto said the countrys jail population has grown by 50 percent since August 2002, from 41,594 to a projected 68,130 this year , including about 2,100 minors

As a result, an inmate occupies an average 1.35 square meters of jail space , probably the smallest in the world today.

As of last year , 427 jails run by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology have a combined cell space of 92,292 square meters

Our jails are literally filled to the rafters that the latter are now used by prisoners for sleeping. They are standing room only , even when inmates sleep, Recto said .

Nowhere is jail congestion more acutely - and miserably - illustrated than in the four BMJP-run jails in the CaMaNaVA (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela) area in Metro Manila

The data last year was that 3,573 inmates were jammed in 1,326 square meters of jail space , or about three inmates per square meter of jail, Recto said .

The above shows why every square foot of jail space is more precious in the eyes of prisoners than Ayala real estate, Recto said.

Recto said the projected increase in jail population had prompted Malacanang to ask Congress to increase the food budget of inmates by P353 million , or to P995 million , this year

The food budget eats up a third of the BJMPs proposed P2.9 billion budget for 2006. _MORE_

However, Recto said jail congestion cannot be solved by building more jails alone. The most effective form of jail decongestion is still the speedy resolution of the cases of the detained.

But Supreme Court records show that courts are suffering from congestion , too, with 778,556 pending cases clogging lower courts by end of 2003, a slight improvement from the 784,709 cases the previous year, Recto said.

Due to judicial delays, many detainees have actually stayed in jail longer than what the maximum prison time for the crimes they have been charged with is , he said.

Jails run by the BJMP are separate from the prisons managed by the Bureau of Corrections and the 750 jails maintained by the Philippine National Police.

Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) facilities , led by the flagship Bilibid national penitentiary in Muntinlupa, house those sentenced for longer terms for graver crimes .

Four years ago it already had combined population of 25,000 and since inmates detained in BJMP are remitted to the BuCor facilities when sentenced by the courts , the BuCor population has gone up as well, Recto said.

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