The government is formulating a new law called the Drug and Substance Abuse (Treatment and Rehabilitation) Act in an effort to reduce overcrowding at prisons, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.
Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said the law was being drafted and was expected to be tabled this year.
"When this law has been passed by the Dewan Rakyat, then the Dewan Negara and gazetted for implementation, cases like the self-administration of drugs will be directly sent for rehabilitation under the National Anti-Drug Agency (AADK).
"At the treatment institution under AADK, (under the new law) the offender will be placed for two years, and then for another two years at community rehabilitation centres.
"If the offender is sent to community rehabilitation centres, it will be for three years... under the existing laws, the offender may end up in jail," he added.
Saifuddin was responding to a question from Wong Chen (PH-Subang) about the government's commitment to decriminalising minor drug offences in an effort to reduce the prison population in the country.
"There are 39 prisons in the country with 74,459 remand detainees and convicts, while the actual capacity of our prisons is only around 65,000 people," he said.
He also told Parliament that the home ministry had put in place several measures to reduce overcrowding in prisons, including giving parole and implementing compulsory attendance orders and release on licence to offenders.
Through these initiatives, the government was able to save about RM17 million last year, he added.