Turkish Parliament ratifies bill for release of almost 90,000 prisoners

# 19:10
14 April 2020

Parliament ratified a bill on April 14 which will reduce the sentences of nearly 90,000 prisoners and release them in a bid to reduce overcrowding and protect them from a potential outbreak of the coronavirus in Turkish prisons, APA reports citing Hurriyyet.

The bill, introduced by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), was supported by 279 lawmakers in the 600-seat chamber while 51 voted against it.  MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli attended the general assembly discussions on late April 13 and voted for the amendment.    

When the law, which has been submitted to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for his approval, is published in the Official Gazette, one-third of the prisons that host nearly 300,000 prisoners will be vacated. The release of 90,000 prisoners will be the largest evacuation operation, proportionally, after an amnesty law ratified on Dec. 21, 2000. 

Sex crimes that offend the public’s conscience, as well as drug crimes, first-degree murder, crimes of violence against women and terrorist crimes, were excluded from the amendment.      

Initially, some 75,000 convicts in open prisons will be sent to their homes and considered on parole until May 31 to reduce the risks in the process of combating the COVID-19 outbreak. 

If the outbreak persists, the justice minister will be able to extend the period of leave three times by a maximum of two months each. Those who are in an open prison and who remain under conditional release for less than a year will be directly released on probation. The right of inmates in closed prisons, who will obtain the condition of moving to an open prison one year after, was brought forward.