Early release of around 3,600 convicts, including around 400 lifers, from different jails in last few months has been a cause for concern over security, and a possible slide in law and order across the country.
Police officers apprehend that the free men will resort to committing further offences unless steps are taken to rehabilitate and reintegrate them into society.
According to sources, the government in its present tenure, freed around 9,000 convicts including 1,500 lifers on humanitarian grounds and on various occasions such as Independence Day, Victory Day and Eid.
In 2010, the government released 1,048 convicts facing life in prisons.
“Prisoners, especially those incarcerated for long periods, often find it difficult to readjust to life in the community,” said a top official of Bangladesh Police.
A number of officials from Rapid Action Battalion, different wings of Police and National Security Intelligence said in most cases, criminals resume committing crimes soon after they are freed on bail.
They said, in addition to criminals on the run, early release of a huge number of convicts through remission of their punishment will add to security risks, as well as social instability.
On humanitarian grounds, and as part of reducing overcrowding in prisons, the government on June 19 freed 387 prisoners convicted on charges of killing, rape, smuggling and various other heinous acts. 3,200 other convicts were also released over the last few months on consideration of their age, behaviour and physical condition.
The 68 jails across the country have the capacity to hold only 32,000 inmates, but there are currently 70, 000.
Brig Gen Ashraful Islam Khan, the inspector general of prisons, said the government has released those who have already served 20 out of a 30-year sentence.
Additional Secretary of the home ministry, Main Uddin Khandaker, admitted that there are no specific measures to rehabilitate the freed individuals, but the matter is under consideration. There are some social welfare organisations working on that.
AKM Shahidul Hoque, additional inspector general of police, said: “Habituated offenders do not usually change and lack the motivation required to do so. They resort to committing further offences, when they are offered the opportunity.”
The police official said the early release of convicts has a mixed impact on the society.
Shahidul said the rehabilitation of those released, depends largely on their immediate family, relatives and society, which must all play a role to help them readjust.
“The Social Welfare Ministry and Department of Youth Development should play an important role in this regard,” he suggested.