The state prisons department has started examining the feasibility of installing ATMs in different jails in the state, which will not just benefit inmates and their relatives, but also members of the jail staff and their families, who usually stay near the jail premises.
At present, only Yerawada jail and Thane Central jail have ATM facilities. The department is presently in talks with nationalised banks, to examine the feasibility of installing ATMs. Additional director general of police (prisons) Meeran Borwankar said the department is trying to get nationalised banks to install ATM machines in all jails in the state.
Officials of the prisons department said inmates usually depend on money orders, or visits from their relatives, in order to get money. Inmates also earn wages by working in jails, in sections such as carpentry, laundry, the kitchen, among others. Officials say that banks, however, prefer to set up ATMs in areas where citizens too will be able to use them, and that since some of the jails are located in the outskirts of cities, banks are not very willing to set up kiosks there.
Officials, however, say they are trying to get ATMs installed, at least in the larger central prisons. Both Yerawada and Thane jail are surrounded by jail staff quarters, with civilians living nearby.
A source said that since there have been some skirmishes in jails over money, jail officials keep tabs on the withdrawals, so there is no misuse. Borwankar said another reason why the department is trying to get ATMs installed in prisons is to earn revenue through rent, which will be used as welfare funds for members of the jail staff. “This money is used to give scholarships to academically bright children of jail staff members, and other similar initiatives,” she said.