Uttarakhand initiates jail modernisation reforms

Uttarakhand government will soon have all prisons equipped with state-of-the-art e-prison system

dehradun Updated: Jan 24, 2018 21:53 IST
Deep Joshi
Deep Joshi
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
jail modernisation,e-prison system,Anand Vardhan
Under the new plan, residential premises for jail staff will also be built. (HT Photo)

As part of its move to carry out jail reforms and modernisation, the Uttarakhand government will soon have all prisons equipped with state-of-the-art e-prison system, besides setting up new prisons to deal with the problem of overcrowded jails.

“We are having all prisons across the state equipped with the e-prison system as part of our initiative aimed at jail reforms and modernisation,” principal secretary, Home, Anand Vardhan, said. “Besides, plans are afoot to set up new jails in the state, which will help us deal with the problem of overcrowded prisons.”

Inspector general (IG) of prisons PVK Prasad said, that four new district jails would be set up in Uttarkashi, Pithoragarh, Sitarganj and Kichha. “New jails are being built as the number of existing jails is negligible compared to the total number of inmates lodged in different prisons,” he said. As of now, there are nine jails in the state against 4, 800 inmates lodged in them. “Out of the nine prisons, six are district jails”, Prasad said.

Vardhan said, “Haldwani sub-jail is heavily crowded as we don’t have a district jail in neighbouring Udham Singh Nagar. Paucity of jails had left all the existing nine jails overcrowded, which has put an extra burden on our human resource.” He further added that the jail administration is forced to depute extra security staff to manage the overcrowded prisons. “Obviously, inmates living in overcrowded jails feel uncomfortable…you have to put more resources, more staff to monitor them,” Prasad said, when asked about the pressure the overcrowded jails put on the inmates and security staff managing them.

“Congested jails also lead to unhygienic conditions and brawls among inmates but we somehow manage the situation. However, we can’t let things go wrong…Despite the problems, we have been putting in extra efforts to manage things,” Prasad said.

About the state government’s plan aimed at modernisation of jails, Vardhan said that prisons would not only be equipped with e-prison system but also with CCTV cameras. “The e-prison system will help keep prison records electronically, which will bring in transparency in jail administration that will in turn benefit prisoners,” he said. Since their electronically kept records would be available to prisoners, they would be able to seek timely legal help.

Prasad, too, agreed that through the electronically kept records, prisoners will be able to get other details about their cases. “For instance, they will have a prior idea about the dates when their cases are listed for hearing in courts, that will help them prepare better for their cases,” he said. Similarly, convicts will also know in advance when they would be released. “Besides, the e-prison system will help safeguard prisoners’ human rights in an effective manner. The CCTV cameras will help monitor those who visit prisons to meet the inmates. The prisons will also be equipped with potable cell phone signal jammers. We have some jails equipped with jammers…Other jails too will be equipped with that device,” Prasad said.

Under the new scheme, residential premises for jail staff will also be built, Vardhan said.

First Published: Jan 24, 2018 21:53 IST