The number of drug offenders rose sharply in the first 11 months of last year, mainly because of a sentence commutation program implemented in the second half of 2007, the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) said yesterday.
Ministry statistics showed that between January and November, courts convicted 37,700 people of narcotics-related offenses, up 52.1 percent from the same period in 2007.
The figures also show that 86.9 percent of the convicts were repeat offenders who had been released under the 2007 commutation program.
Ministry officials said the public prosecutors offices received 78,877 new narcotics-related cases for investigation in the first 11 months last year, down 2.7 percent from the same period of 2007, and that 89.2 percent of the cases were related to substance abuse.
They added that in January and February last year, police handled 49,928 offenses against the Narcotics Endangerment Prevention Act (毒品危害防制條例), an increase of 2 percent over the same period in 2007, and that 64 percent of the offenses were related to heroin and opium — restricted Class A drugs.
Also in the 11-month period, police detained 53,325 drug abuse suspects, a rise of 1.3 percent over the same period in 2007. Of the total, 86 percent were male and 91.5 percent were graduates of either junior high schools, senior high schools or vocational schools.
Under the 2007 sentence commutation program, former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) ordered the release of 25,670 prisoners as part of the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the end of 38 years of martial law. Of the first group of 10,943 inmates released on July 16, 2007, 4,973 were convicted under the narcotics control act, and many were drug addicts who were still undergoing rehabilitation.
Within two weeks of their release, more than 20 of them had died of drug overdoses, news reports said.