October 10, 2007
SENATE OKAYS BILL GRANTING GOOD CONDUCT
The Senate has approved on third and final reading Senate Bill 1647 which seeks to provide good conduct time allowances (GCTA) to prisoners resulting in the shortening of their jail terms.
The bill, principally authored by Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) and co-authored by Sen. Francis Escudero, provides that detention prisoners and those serving sentence by virtue of final judgment, as a reward for good behavior, shall be entitled to a reduction of 15 days in their jail terms for every month of good conduct.
"The reduction of sentence is in consideration of the good conduct and diligence of a prisoner who does not violate the code of discipline or prison rules, and has shown fidelity to the tasks given to him while serving sentence," Pimentel said.
He said this conforms with Article 97 of the Revised Penal Code which provides for the allowance for good conduct, recognizes the ability of prisoners to reform while serving their sentences.
The grant of good conduct time allowances for prisoners was one of the nine legislative measures passed by the Senate before going on a month-long recess.
In addition to the GCTA, prisoners who shall earn or make satisfactory progress towards earning a post-graduate or college degree, a certificate of completion of a vocational skills or value development course, a high school diploma or an elementary grade certificate shall also be allowed a reduction of 15 days for every month of study or mentoring services rendered to fellow prisoners.
Such privilege shall apply to prisoners who are rendering teaching services to their fellow inmates.
Under the bill, the director of the Bureau of Corrections, the director of the Bureau of Jail and Management and Penology and wardens of various provinces, cities and municipalities shall be authorized to assess, evaluate and grant good conduct time allowances to prisoners.
Pimentel observed that the present lack of mechanism for good conduct time allowances for prisoners while their cases are on appeal only discourages them from complying with prison rules.
The bill seeks to implement the policy of the State to promote the reformation and rehabilitation of prisoners by giving them free education in order to develop their skills, strengthen their moral values, facilitate their integration into the mainstream of society and prevent unnecessary deprivation of personal liberty and economic usefulness.
The secretary of the Department of Justice and the secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government shall, within 60 days from the approval of this Act, promulgate the rules and regulations on the classification system for good conduct time allowances as may be necessary to implement the provisions of the Act. -o0o-
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