Ban welcomes US release of 6,000 nonviolent prisoners

United Nations, Oct 8 (IANS) UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Wednesday welcomed the United States government’s decision to release about 6,000 inmates to ease prison overcrowding, said a statement of Ban’s spokesperson.

“He also welcomes proposals that aim to consider early release of additional prisoners who are serving sentences disproportionate to their crimes, many of which are drug-related,” said the statement, Xinhua reported.

While embracing the decision which aims to “provide a degree of redress for persons who received disproportionately long sentences for non-violent drug-related offences,” Ban believed over-incarceration constitutes one of the major underlying causes of overcrowding, which results in conditions that can often amount to ill-treatment or even torture.

He suggested some states develop and implement alternatives to custodial measures, and review penal policies and legislation to ensure proportionate sentencing in order to address over-incarceration and overcrowding.

“Consideration needs to be given to alternatives to criminalization and incarceration of people who use drugs, with an increased focus on public health, prevention, treatment and care,” it said, quoted the UN Secretary-General.

The US Justice Department is preparing to release roughly 6, 000 inmates from federal prisons starting the end of this month as part of an effort to ease overcrowding and roll back the harsh penalties given to nonviolent drug dealers in the 1980s and 1990s, reports say.

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