MORE than 50 inmates from an overcrowded Phnom Penh prison have been relocated to Pursat province’s Correctional Centre 4, a facility that last month introduced an agricultural training programme aimed at reducing recidivism, officials said Thursday.
Heng Hak, director general of the Department of Prisons at the Interior Ministry, said there are more than 700 inmates in Prey Sar Correctional Centre 1, and that prisoners are being relocated to less-crowded jails.
“The Prey Sar Correctional Centre 1 is now overcrowded; that’s why I am taking measures to move some of them to another prison,” he said.
Hin Sophal, chief of Correctional Centre 4, said that the 54 prisoners had arrived from Prey Sar on Wednesday.
“There are now 148 prisoners in CC4, and we are building a new centre in order to receive more prisoners,” he said, adding that he expects around 150 inmates to be relocated from other prisons once the new building is finished after Khmer New Year.
He said the prison, which was opened late last year as part of a broader effort to combat overcrowding, would eventually house about 2,500 prisoners on 846 hectares of land.
Heng Hak last month said that the prison’s agricultural training programme was designed to reduce recidivism by providing prisoners with skills that can be used after release.
He said Thursday that the government is also in the process of building new prisons in Phnom Penh and other areas where prisons have become overcrowded, including Battambang, Kampong Thom and Pursat provinces.
He said relocation could make it difficult for relatives to visit prisoners, but that deteriorating conditions in Correctional Centre 1 had made the move necessary. “We had to move them because we think prisoner health is a greater priority,” he said.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said in February that Cambodia’s detention facilities were capable of housing just 8,000 prisoners, far below the 13,325 they held during 2009.