updated 8/6/2007 6:02:26 PM ET 2007-08-06T22:02:26

Inmates in the Gaza Strip’s main prison can now reduce their sentences by one year if they memorize five chapters from the Quran, Islam’s holy book, the governor announced Monday.

The prison, controlled by the radical Islamic Hamas movement since its violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in June, holds 350 prisoners, 30 of whom are on death row.

The new scripture program seeks to encourage prisoners “to behave according to the Quran’s law,” said the prison governor, Col. Abu al-Abed Hamid, in a statement.

Most of the inmates were sentenced before Hamas took power for crimes ranging from murder to corruption to collaborating with Israel.

The traditionally male-dominated Hamas also announced its intention to add 100 women to the Gaza police force. They would supervise female prisoners and help in police actions when “women must sometimes be present to search other women,” said Gen. Tawfiq Jaber, the acting police chief.

Jaber added that a number of women have already applied for jobs and that new recruits would be selected and trained soon.

Hamas pledged to bring law and order to the chaotic Gaza Strip after wresting control of the area from the rival Fatah movement.

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