Spending a couple of days with their wives within jail premises is not a luxury most inmates would dream of, but that's precisely what West Bengal's prison administration is planning to provide prisoners serving long sentences.
Led by a reformist additional director general of prisons, B D Sharma, the department is planning to build one-room cottages inside jail premises.
"The idea is to allow long-serving convicts to spend some time with their families inside jails," said Sharma.
Prison department officials hope the measure would help them reduce the incidence of sodomy in jails. "Homosexuality and sodomy among convicts expose them to the risk of contracting the HIV virus," said a jail official who did not want to be named.
The service is likely to be introduced in the two big jails in Kolkata — Alipore Central Jail and Presidency Jail — and one each in Burdwan and Krishnanagar districts.
The cottages will have attached bathrooms and other amenities and will be located at a distance from other inmates. Food will also be provided to the family for two to three days.
"Though there will be no fixed rules about eligibility criteria, the conduct of long-serving convicts will be considered," said a senior officer.
The concept is Sharma's, like the telephone booths he had opened in three jails last year to allow inmates to call a designated number and speak to their near and dear ones.