De Lima to file bill institutionalizing prison reform and restorative justice for inmates

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In line with the 30th celebration of the Prison Awareness Week, Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has underscored the need to institutionalize prison reform and restorative justice in the Philippine correctional system to guarantee full respect for the rights of inmates.

De Lima said she intends to file a bill that will propose a policy of decongesting and improving the country’s prisons and detention facilities, while introducing an improved system of custody and rehabilitation of the prisoners.

“In this meaningful occasion, we are called upon to reflect and look at the plight of our brothers and sisters in prison and to raise awareness on how we can participate in their effective rehabilitation and reintegration in society,” she said.

“Together, we need to address the often-repeated challenges of effective correctional system and jail management in pursuing restorative justice for those found guilty of violating our criminal laws,” she added.

De Lima said she envisioned the proposed measure to run parallel with Senate Bill No. 1879 – which she earlier filed – that seeks to integrate the management of the country’s jails and prisons under one agency tasked to provide better treatment and rehabilitation programs for all detainees and prisoners.

As early as Aug. 2016, De Lima has already expressed concern over the worse subhuman conditions and congestion inside the country’s jails and penitentiaries, which prompted her to file Senate Resolution (SR) No. 97 calling for a Senate inquiry into the current state of jails and penitentiaries all over the country.

Last January, she also filed SR No. 590, which seeks an investigation into the continued failure of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology to complete jail facility projects.

In July, she pressed her colleagues to act on a number of resolutions she filed which seek to address the problems that have long been plaguing the country’s prison system, but to no avail.

“Naniniwala ako na ang katarungan, na kakambal ng kaayusan ng lipunan, ay kolektibong tungkulin nating lahat,” she said, noting that the Constitution declares that the State values the dignity of every person regardless of their positions in the society.

The former justice secretary said the measure that she intends to file will also address the need to regionalize the prisons, and to standardize the rules and regulations in running all types of detention facilities.

“Let us all do our share in improving our prisons and jails, and the situation of our inmates,” said the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development.

Despite her continued unjust detention for trumped-up drug charges fabricated by the Duterte administration, borne out of Duterte’s personal vendetta against her, De Lima continues to file meaningful legislative measures aimed at improving the plight of her countrymen.

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