To counter the problem of jail congestion, a city court recently recommended the adoption of open jails by the Delhi government.
The court said such a system was, in fact, working successfully at Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh, which could be adopted in a modified manner by the Delhi government.
An initiative to reform convicts, open jails give them the freedom to move around freely during the day and earn a living in accordance with their skill set.
In some open jails, the convicts are allowed to keep their full earnings, while in others, part of the earnings are contributed towards the prison trust.
In the open jail system, a convict is allotted a house where he can keep his family with him. Guests and friends are also allowed visits.
An initiative that launched in the country in Bilaspur in 1960, open jails are assigned to convicts who have served part of their sentence and displayed good conduct. Rapists, terrorists and repeat offenders, however, are taboo.
There are 28 open jails in India, with 13 being in Rajasthan alone, the highest in any state.
Recently many open prisons have been set up. One of them, in Yerwada, Pune, which opened last year, is a women’s-only zone. The Udaipur Open prison, which launched in 2004, is among the latest to be set up.
Countries other than India have also adopted the open prison system. But the model is not as successful everywhere.
The open prisons in UK have regularly seen people absconding and inmates smuggling in drugs. The US does not have open jails at all.
However, Norway’s open prison system is much appreciated, with the Bastøy Prison model being a successful example that other countries can replicate.