The draft bill was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers and will be sent to Parliament next week to be voted on. According to the amendment, those convicted of charges of terrorism or organized crime will not benefit from the new regulation.
According to February 2012 statistics, there are 129,340 individuals -- including convicts (93,000) and those detained pending trial (36,000) -- in prisons across the country.
Currently, prison facilities are operating at overcapacity and are far from meeting the justice system's needs. After hammering out new ways to find a solution to the problem, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin unveiled details of the new bill, which is expected to come into effect in the next few months, at a press conference in Ankara on Tuesday.
In order to address the problem of prisons operating over capacity, the bill proposes to amend the law so that prisoners who have only one year left of their prison terms can complete their sentences out of prison. Enforcement judges, who oversee the legal disputes and situation of convicts during their time in prisons, will have the authority to decide who will be released based on their prison records.
The aim of the law is to allow convicts make a smooth transition back into society and to reduce their risks of re-engaging in criminal activity after release.
If the bill becomes law, up to 15,000 of 93,000 convicted prisoners may return to society. These prisoners would be supervised by a department of the Ministry of Justice, which would administrate the conditional release of prisoners through its directorates across the country.
The enforcement judges would also have the authority to decide whether the newly released prisoners would work for the good of society through performing public service.
Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin pointed out that the new law will not mean a full pardon for prisoners. There will be no need to reopen prisoners' files or the case in which they were convicted.
In response to a question asked by journalists at the press conference about ankle monitors, Minister Ergin indicated that the system is ready and is currently being tried out with several people on probation.
The ankle monitors are part of pre-emptive measures by the Ministry of Justice to reduce cases of domestic violence. Those who are reported to be violent with women will be closely monitored by electronic handcuffs, which allow police to track the offender and act immediately in case of an attack.
Ergin noted that the use of ankle monitors will be expanded in the future, adding that the directorates of the Ministry of Justice would have the final say in whether they would be used in the cases of prisoners released in accordance with the bill.