Sukesh Kumar, a 56-year-old murder convict, has served more than half of his 14-year term without any blot on his behaviour record.
For his good conduct, he may get a reward soon — a chance to savour freedom outside the high walls by being an inmate at the proposed semi-open jail (SOJ).
Kumar, who is lodged at Tihar Jail, has been out on parole thrice and is considered a well-behaved man by other inmates and jail superintendents.
More than 50 other convicts have also been shortlisted by the jail authorities for admission into the proposed jail. The authorities recently sent the proposal regarding the new facility to the Delhi state government for approval.
The SOJ, an initiative of Tihar Jail director General Neeraj Kumar, seeks to act as an incentive for good conduct inside the jail and a means to begin a process to prepare and re-integrate convicts into the life outside on their release.
The facility, to be set up at one of the nine sub-jails spread across 400 acres of the Tihar Jail campus in west Delhi, would allow its inmates to step outside the barrack and earn daily wages, according to Kumar.
He added, “These convicts may get more than R97, higher than the existing maximum wage of R51, since we have sought a revision of the current rates for convicts.”
SOJs — operating in 32 jail facilities across the country housing around 2, 500 convicts — will have minimum of security and surveillance measures for around 60-odd convicts.
They would not be confined behind grills for the mandatory 10 hours daily, known as the ‘lock-in’ hours, unlike in other barracks.
In a usual barrack, a convict’s day begins at 6am with a ‘head-count’ by a jail warden. In the semi-open jail, a convict will begin his day at 8am by setting off at work, either inside the jail compound or outside, at one of its two dozen outlets in the city that sell jail products under the Tihar Jail brand.
“We will only admit convicts who are not expected to run away,” said the jail’s law officer Sunil Gupta. “Such convicts should have at least finished seven to eight years of their jail term and availed three paroles,” he added.