THE early release of inmates who qualify for extra-mural punishment is being looked at by the Fiji Corrections Service to ease the problem of overcrowding in prisons.
FCC spokeswoman Ana Tamani said the strategy was taken on board following reports of overcrowding in prisons, including the Labasa Prison.
Mrs Tamani said overcrowding was not confined to the Labasa Corrections Centre.
The Labasa Prison currently holds 141 inmates — more than the capacity of 81 inmates.
Last week The Fiji Times highlighted the overcrowding of Lautoka Prison.
"A short-term strategy is identifying all inmates eligible for extra-mural punishment (EMP) and early release," Mrs Tamani said.
"To date, we have 65 inmates on EMP who work six hours daily at various government institutions.
"EMP is only awarded to inmates who come in for minor offences and those with 12 months or less left of their sentence to serve."
Mrs Tamani said prison overcrowding had been an ongoing problem and a daily challenge within all the centres of the FCS.
"People must understand that we have no control over the number of people entering our system.
"We are only obligated to keep in safe and secure custody those who have been committed by the court."
Mrs Tamani said the new 200-capacity remand facility in the Central Division, due to be completed in December, is expected to ease the age-old problem of overcrowding. There are plans to build remand facilities in Labasa and Lautoka.
"Those with longer terms have undergone a number of behavioural enhancement programs and displayed a major transformation in their behaviour to be eligible," she said.