DAGUPAN CITY — The district jail of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in Dagupan is holding 1, 179 inmates which is almost four times its maximum capacity of 300.
Jail Senior Inspector Randy Batay-an, assistant jail warden, said the overcrowding became more serious when the government launched its war on drugs which netted and charged hundreds of suspects. All are detained at the district jail.
In fact, 70 per cent of the inmates at the district jail are facing drug-related cases, Batay-an said.
“Congestion is beyond the control of BJMP. We can not say no if an inmate is referred to us by the courts,” Batay-an said.
But he said, the serious congestion was somewhat mitigated when the present jail management built a two-storey building inside BJMP compound. The new building is capable of accommodating 400 inmates.
Operational since December last year, the building’s first floor is designated as the visiting area, where inmates are doing their livelihood projects while the second floor is where four dormitories are located, with 100 inmates per dormitory.
He said the building, funded by BJMP national office,was constructed by the present administration of Atty. Kenneth Bid-ding, jail warden, to somewhat ease the congestion and give the inmates some breathing space. Since the land area of the district jail is limited, further expansion is no longer possible.
Identified by Batay-an as the final solution to relieve the district jail of congestion was the adoption of the proposal of the BJMP for local governments in central Pangasinan to build their own town jails.
To date, only the town of San Fabian has responded when it bought a piece of land to build a municipal jail.
In the case of Dagupan, Mayor Belen Fernandez is seeking the transfer of the district jail to another site as it is located near the Lingayen Gulf and there is a danger that waste water from the jail will pollute the seashore.
Such incident took place in the past but was soon addressed by the present jail administration with the construction of a big septic tank within the facility.
Most of the inmates of the district jail are from Dagupan as Mayor Fernandez earlier announced that 200 of the anti-drug violators were arrested and jailed when Supt. Christopher Abrahano was chief of police and about a hundred were also arrested and charged when Supt. Neil Miro succeeded as chief of police.
The district jail is the temporary detention facility for those charged in various courts in central Pangasinan, particularly the regional trial courts in Dagupan.
An average of 10 inmates whose cases have been decided by the courts are being transported monthly by BJMP Dagupan to the National Bilibid Prisons (NBP) in Muntinlupa
Those sent to NBP are those whose sentences are three years and above and those meted out sentences below three years will either remain in the district jail or apply for probation if they qualify, Batay-an said.
Despite its congestion, the Dagupan District jail was recipient of the seal of “Sustenadong Paglilinis ng Bilangguan” awarded by the BJMP national office sometime during the first quarter of the year for implementation of livelihood program for detainees, conduct of offensive operations against illegal drugs and such other program such as the implementation of segregation of inmates as well as non-existence of “kubol” or huts for affluent inmates. Leonardo Micua/PNA-northboundasia.com