By Emin Avundukluoglu
ANKARA (AA) - A Turkish penal reform bill reducing the sentences of thousands of prisoners was submitted to the Parliament's Speaker Office on Tuesday, with debate set to start on April 7.
Speaking to reporters in parliament, the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party's deputy chair said the bill had been co-prepared with the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
Before debate by the full parliament, the bill will face hearings in the Justice Committee this week, said Cahit Ozkan.
"We have excluded sex crimes that offend the public conscience as well as drug crimes, murder in the first degree, crimes of violence to women and terrorist crimes," he said.
The bill would enable home confinement for some inmates over 65, women who have children age 6 and under, and patients who cannot take care of themselves, he added.
But the bill would toughen sentences on those who organize criminal organizations for the purpose of monetary profit, he said.
Ozkan also said that the bill would bring measures for inmates with communicable diseases.
The measures would roughly double beneficiaries of alternative penal arrangements from about 45,000 to 90,000 in home confinement due to such illnesses, he said.
There have been no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Turkish prisons so far, according to Turkey’s Justice Ministry.
After first appearing in Wuhan, China last December, the virus has spread to at least 178 countries and regions, according to data compiled by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.
The number of confirmed cases worldwide has surpassed 803,000, while the death toll is nearly 40,000 and to date almost 173,000 people have recovered.
In Turkey, 168 people have so far died from the outbreak.