To let: Telangana to offer jails on rent to states with overcrowded prisons
Telangana’s 50 jails can accommodate 6,848 prisoners. At present, there are 6,063 on the prison rolls. So, there’s lodging space for around 800 more.india Updated: Jul 28, 2017 07:14 IST
States with overcrowded prisons may contact India’s youngest state that plans to rent out next year its jail cells at Rs 10,000 a month for each prisoner.
The offer is not for everyone. The jail-share scheme is restricted to convicts of “non-grievous and non-serious” offences. Tenants cannot be undertrials and hardcore criminals.
“Norway, where the crime rate has gone down considerably, started this practice of letting its prisons to neighbouring countries facing space shortage for prisoners. We want to adopt this,” director general of prisons VK Singh said on Thursday.
Telangana’s 50 jails can accommodate 6,848 prisoners. At present, there are 6,063 on the prison rolls. So, there’s lodging space for around 800 more.
Singh said the scheme could begin next year after making space for at least 2,000 renter-prisoners.
“We aren’t in a hurry. First we want to stabilise our prisoner strength.”
Jails in bigger states are struggling with chronic overcrowding — the result of a slow-moving justice system and years of failure to build new prisons by governments trying to rein in expenses.
States such as Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh could be potential clients for Telangana, which was carved out of Andhra Pradesh in June 2014.
“We plan to charge Rs 10,000 a prisoner a month for their boarding and lodging, security, mulakat (meeting visitors) and training in various job skills,” Singh said.
The prisons department estimates earnings of roughly Rs 25 crore a year from the rental if the government clears the plan.
“The money would contribute to making our jails self-reliant,” the prisons chief said.
In Telangana and Andhra Pradesh jails, the average daily expenditure on a prisoner is Rs 120, which comes to Rs 43,800 a year. On food alone, the states spend Rs 80 a day on each prisoner every weekday and Rs 100 on Sundays and holidays, when a non-vegetarian fare is served.
A number of reform-oriented programmes such as Maha Parivarthan, Vidya Danam and Unnati brought down the number of jailbirds or repeat-offenders in the past three years, Singh said.