Odisha govt set to introduce far-reaching jail reforms

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government has initiated the process to introduce sweeping jail reforms in the state.

As part of the initiative, the government has decided to replace the Odisha Jail Manual, 1942.

The Directorate of Prisons and Correctional Services has prepared a draft Jail Manual titled “Odisha model jail manual for the superintendence and management of prisons in Odisha”.

The draft Jail Manual has been prepared after examining the Jail Manual-2003 prepared by the Bureau of Police Research and Development as well as jail manuals of six neighbouring states.

As per the proposals laid out in the draft, all land phone calls by under-trial prisoners (UTPs) from the jail will be recorded for which an EPBAX call recording machine would be installed in each jail.

Considering the number of UTPs lodged in the jail, the jail authorities would decide on the duration of meetings between the UTPs and their kin. The kin would be allowed to meet a UTP twice a week with a time limit of 15 minutes for a single meeting.

For female UTPs having minor children, there will be provision to open a play school inside the jail premises.

The UTPs will not be allowed cooked food prepared outside the jail. The jail authorities will set up a canteen inside the jail from which the UTPs will get the food through their prison incentives.

There will be a special block for dreaded and high-profile criminals, which will be under the security of the para-military forces.

To monitor the health of the prisoners, there will be a provision for two categories of hospitals—A and B— for the UTPs. The state government will appoint doctors in Medicine, Surgery and Orthopaedics in these hospitals.

The new Manual has also proposed to set up a colony inside the open air jail premises where the inmates will be allowed to stay with their families for 13 hours from 6 AM to 7 PM.

This apart, the manual has proposed e-Prison system for the management of jail and the prisoners.

“Under the new system, all information about all criminal records, cases, health and treatment of the jail inmates would be stored online. The complete family record of each inmate will be kept online. This will help family members, police and the jail authorities to know the details of any inmate online,” Additional DGP-cum-IG of Prisons and DCS (Department of Corrective Services), Sidharth Narvane, told OTV on Wednesday.

Besides, there will be online information about the grant of parole, furlough and conditional bail given to a prisoner. The family members will have to apply online to meet prisoners inside the jail while the jail authorities will inform them about the meeting hour online, Narvane said.

He also said there is a proposal to introduce biometric fingerprint system, which would be made mandatory for all prisoners at the time of their arrival and departure from the jail.

The ADG also said a decision has been taken for online connectivity to 91 jails in Odisha of which there will be provision for videoconferencing in 50 jails. Besides, all records of expenses in jail would be stored online.

“The state government has submitted the project report to the Union Home ministry. The state government has planned to implement the project within a year after the approval of the project by the ministry,” Narvane added.