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Country’s jails may take lessons from Telangana

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Hyderabad: Impressed with the initiatives of the Telangana State Prisons Department, Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) working under the Ministry of Home Affairs sought more information about the practices adopted in prisons here for implementing the same in jails across the country.

Informing this to the media at an annual press meet in the city on Monday, Prisons Director General VK Singh said BPRD appreciated the best practices implemented in Telangana prisons. He said BPRD officials wanted more details about the various initiatives taken up by the Prisons Department during his recent visit to New Delhi.

Apart from this, Prisons officials gave a power-point presentation during the annual conference of Director Generals of Prisons conducted in the city last year. Stating that senior officials from BPRD attended the meeting, Singh said the Bureau now wanted more details to adopt and implement the initiatives in all States.

“We explained in detail about the programmes such as Vidyadanam, Unnati that were launched for the welfare of prisoners, apart from other reforms,” he said. The department also explained the maintenance of prisons without additional funds.

Under Vidyadanam, launched in November 2014, prisoners using thumb impressions were taught to sign their names. Under Unnati, the department trained prisoners to counsel inmates in district and central jails.

Singh said 1,265 beggars, including 553 women, visited the department’s Anand Ashram. Of them, 1,013 were released on the condition that they would not resort to begging again. As on January 8, 252 beggars, including 105 women, live in Anand Ashram.

Singh also clarified that the department did not pick up owners of the traditionally decorated bull, Gangireddu, visiting houses during Sankranti. “We don’t count them as beggars,” he said.

Prisons dept’s initiatives pay off

The Prisons Department generated revenue of over Rs 15 crore in 2017 through its petrol filling stations, an Ayurveda outlet and stores run under the banner of ‘My Nation’ in villages.

The revenue was generated through 13 fuel stations, an Ayurveda shop and 40 ‘My Nation’ outlets, Prisons Director General VK Singh said on Monday. He said the prisoners were making a variety of products — apparel, vegetables, baked food, towels, soaps — and selling them through the department’s outlets.

The department provided employment to over 146 people, including released prisoners and outsiders in fuel stations, five in the Ayurveda shop and 49 in ‘My Nation’ outlets. “We were unable to set up more fuel stations due to problems in getting land,” he said.

Plans have been chalked out to open two more Ayurveda shops. The department has set a target of generating over Rs 30 crore in 2018 and Rs 100 crore by 2020. Under the Haritha Haram programme, 2,03,555 teakwood saplings were planted in 2015 and 2016, Singh said.

Number of deaths in prisons reduce

The number of deaths of prisoners in jails was significantly coming down, Director General of Prisons Department VK Singh said on Monday.

Around 17 deaths were recorded in 2017, while 24 were recorded in 2016, 32 in 2015 and 56 in 2014. Singh attributed the dip to implementation of certain measures such as smoking ban, yoga, ensuring proper food and master health checkups. Several prisoners were already suffering from ailments such as cancer, kidney issues and AIDS, he said.

Telangana prisons registered 68,369 admissions in 2017, of which 5,474 prisoners are in jails. Out of these 1,861 are convicts, 3,087 undertrials, 128 detenues and 398 women prisoners. The total accommodation capacity of all jails is 6,848 prisoners, Singh said.

To get real-time feedback from the released prisoners, the department started a third-party call centre. After contacting 1,290 released prisoners in 2017, only 20 had complaints and 1,270 spoke well about the department. The complaints were mainly about bad behaviour, and delay in bail and food, he said.

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