The State Minister of Justice and Prison Affairs, Anuradha Jayaratne, has initiated discussions on establishing a cost-effective legal framework for prison management. Private sector involvement in prison construction and employment for inmates is gaining traction.
At a press conference themed ‘Collective Path to a Stable Country,’ Minister Jayaratne revealed that 50.3% of current inmates are incarcerated for drug-related offenses.
Plans for skill development and rehabilitation programs are underway to break the cycle of repeat drug-related offenders. Proposed rehabilitation and health centers aim to address drug-related prisoners’ needs in the Western and Southern provinces. The Prison Department is also exploring ways to reduce the considerable food expenses incurred by the government through inmate cultivation initiatives.
The issue of overcrowding, with prisons housing nearly double their capacity, is being addressed by potential amendments to the Bail Act and exploring alternatives like house arrest. The adoption of Virtual Courts for remote participation in legal proceedings is being considered. Furthermore, efforts are being made to establish private sector factories within prisons for inmate employment.
Successful operation of these factories could lead to inmates reintegrating into society with monetary support. The “Amadivi Ridma” program has already rehabilitated 1120 inmates, focusing on good behavior and reintegration into society. Safety measures and special security programs are in place to prevent unlawful activities within prisons. Prison infrastructure projects, including a new facility in Horana, are being developed through international tenders.
The aim is to modernize the prison system and introduce innovations such as the geo-tag system for civil convicts. The minister emphasizes that the goal is a systematic legal framework that doesn’t burden the Treasury and is distinct from providing luxury cells to the elite. Additionally, plans are in place for a Prisoners’ Art Exhibition to showcase inmates’ skills and commemorate National Prisoners’ Day on September 12.