The Bangladesh Ministry of Home Affairs [official website] announced Wednesday that it will release almost 1,000 prisoners in an effort to resolve the issue of overcrowding [JURIST news archive] throughout the nation's jails. Most Bangladeshi jails currently house three times their designed capacity. Women's facilities are the most affected by the overcrowding, with some facilities accommodating four times the allotted amount. Home Secretary Iqbal Khan Chowdhury stated that the government has selected prisoners that are in good standing [AFP report] and have served more than 20 years of their sentence. Chowdhury concluded that ministry will send the prison authorities an order for release on Wednesday.
Bangladesh took similar measures to reduce prison overcrowding in 2008 after the government announced a clampdown on crime and arrested thousands [JURIST reports] of political activists and suspected criminals on corruption charges. This caused prisons to reach triple their intended capacity and required the government to release certain prisoners who have served half their prison sentences in order to reduce the country's overcrowded prison populations. Bangladeshi political parties, the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party [party websites] accused the government of using the sweep for political purposes, but government officials defended their actions claiming that the arrests were primarily based on warrants and other crimes and were not for political reasons under the Emergency Power Rules.