With an aim to give a humane touch regarding facilities for inmates in jail, the state prisons department is contemplating to introduce telephone booths to enable prisoners officially call their near and dear ones.
Sources said as per the plan, the booths are proposed to be opened on built operate and transfer (BOT) basis.
The prison department is negotiating with private mobile service providers, who are keen to open telephone booths in all 19 jails of Haryana.
"Modern jails like Tihar prisons in Delhi have a similar facility, where the jail inmates can make calls to their relatives or others from the jail. After due scrutiny of the numbers given to the jail department, the inmates are allowed to make calls seven times a week with maximum duration of five minutes for each call," said an official, who wished not to be identified.
Under the proposed plan, which has yet to be cleared by the state government, the prisoners would be allowed to use coupons, which are issued by the jail authorities in lieu of their work, for paying the telephone bills.
A source said the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has been roped in by the prisons department to study the feasibility of the proposal and the Nigam teams have started inspecting various jails.
As per the proposal, the inmates will be allowed to contact anyone on the landline or post-paid mobile phones.
"Under the project, the pre-paid mobile phone numbers will not be considered due to the safety reasons. If introduced, the scheme would be of great help to the family members who have to travel long distances for a meeting of merely 20 minutes," said the official.
Sources admit that in the absence of universal mobile phone signal jammers on the jail premises, the nuisance of illegal use of mobile phones was difficult to control.
Several cases are reported in the recent years where the criminals lodged in the jails not only issued ransom calls to their targets but also planned murders of their rivals and others.
"Only a handful of hardcore criminals indulged in such unauthorised activities and rest of the prisoners should not be deprived of the facility. The jail authorities can record telephonic conversation of each caller to ensure that the facility is not misused," said a jail official.
Satellite TV channels already there
Early this year, the prisons department had provided free-to-air satellite channels in all jails. Prisoners are allowed to watch channels showing news, entertainment and spiritual programmes as a part of the corrective project.