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Nepal: new bill proposes open jail

A parliamentary panel is close to finalizing a bill on sentencing, which envisions an open jail system for the first time in the country. Once the bill becomes law, the authorities concerned can deploy prisoners in various social activities if the prisoners so wish.

The bill, which is under discussion at the Legislative Committee of parliament, also has a provision allowing those serving jail terms to go on parole to engage in some work.

Any prisoner serving less than six months will be given two options - serve out the sentence in prison or do social work.

However, the court will take into account various things including the type of offence, the age of the offender and other background facts before allowing him to choose from the two options, according to the draft bill.

“For instance, the court can order certain types of offenders to work in the Bagmati cleaning campaign for a certain number of hours a day or week over a certain period,” said coordinator of the sub-committee Ram Narayan Bidari.

However, if any offender doing social work in lieu of time in jail fails to accomplish the given task, the court can annul the parole and put him behind bars again. A parole board will be formed to oversee the activities of such offenders.

Likewise, the new bill has a provision for sending someone given less than two month in jail to a rehabilitation center instead.

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