Almost everyone in Pakistan believes that jail authorities count day and night as two calendar days and that is the fact, according to the people, that those jailed for a certain number of years are released after spending half number of years in jail. This belief is false but the fact is not.
There is a system of remission in Pakistan’s criminal judicial system. Remissions are concessions in one’s punishment that are granted by the government on special occasions i.e. Eids, Defence Day (6 September), Independence Day (14 August), Pakistan Day (23 March), New Year (1 January) and whenever a new government comes in power. These remissions are called special remissions. They often range up to 3 months. Two Eids make it 6 months of no jail.
Then there are general remissions. They are given to a convict on his good conduct, helping jail authorities to maintain law and order, saving a jail official from attack of fellow inmate, donating blood, getting sterilized, learning to read the holy Quran, getting education in jail etc.
The remissions originating from good conduct range up to 5 days in a month. Donating blood and getting sterilized shortens the sentence up to 3 months. Education is very beneficial. Remissions are awarded according to the percentage of marks obtained in courses or exams.
A person convicted to 4 or less months is not entitled to get remissions. The reason behind remissions is reformation of the convict. The system encourages the convicts to shorten their period in jail by their good conduct. It is like a ladder in the ladder-snake game. You do the right thing and you are sent ahead of your time in jail.
Those who are convicted in cases of espionage and terrorism are not granted remissions. A former client was given 25 years under terrorism law. His sentence will not be shortened and he would have to spend a quarter of the century in jail.