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Updated: January 21, 2012 14:49 IST

Now, prisoners can talk to their near ones

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Front view of Central Prison in Tiruchi. Photo:R.M.Rajarathinam
The Hindu Front view of Central Prison in Tiruchi. Photo:R.M.Rajarathinam

The Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu would install eight phone booths with the BSNL being service provider at the Tiruchi Central Prison, writes R.Rajaram

Inmates lodged in the Tiruchi Central Prison will soon have the facility to make calls to their near ones as the Prison Department has decided to install phone booths inside the sprawling jail.

Eight landline telephone booths are to be installed inside the Tiruchi Prison which accommodates 1,500 prisoners including more than 450 lifers.

The prison authorities have already identified the places inside the jail for installing the phone booths and have communicated the same to their higher ups.

The State government had issued an order to provide 54 phone booths in the nine central prisons located across the State as well as in the special prisons for women besides in the Borstal School at Pudukottai.

A sum of Rs. 1.58 crore has been sanctioned for providing this facility in the prisons.

Maximum number of eight phone booths each is to be installed in Tiruchi and Coimbatore Central Prison; seven in Vellore Central Prison; six each in Palayamkottai and Puzhal – II Central Prisons; five each in Madurai and Salem Central Prisons; three in Cuddalore Central Prison and two in Puzhal – I Central Prison near Chennai.

One phone booth each would be installed in the Special Prison for Women situated at Puzhal, Vellore and Tiruchi besides one booth in the Borstal School at Pudukottai which accommodates young offenders in the age group 18 – 25 years.

The Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu would install the phone booths with the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) being the service provider.

BSNL cards are proposed to be provided to the inmates to make calls on payment of charges only to their family members / near ones within the country and to their respective legal counsels, say prison authorities. The phone facility is expected to come up in Tiruchi Prison before March.

Each inmate is permitted to talk for a total time of 30 minutes per month. A prisoner is allowed to speak once in 10 days for 10 minutes including any one Sunday in the time from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The inmates are required to furnish the telephone numbers to the prison authorities well in advance and a thorough verification would be done before they are allowed to make calls, say the authorities.

The phone booths would be linked to the prison control room and the entire conversation would be recorded, a senior prison official said.

The call duration and the time would also be monitored simultaneously. The call would automatically get snapped once the prescribed time comes to an end and the payment would be deducted from the prisoners' cash property, the official added.

The phone facility would enable prisoners to get in regular touch with their family members and near ones and get over any depressed feelings. Barring their family members or their legal counsels, the inmates cannot make any call to outsiders, the official said.

The facility is also aimed at checking smuggling of mobile phones into the Central Prison.

In the last four months alone, around 30 cell phones were seized inside the Tiruchi Central Prison, the official said.

A couple of cell phone detectors were being used in the Tiruchi Prison inside which surveillance cameras have been fixed at vantage points to monitor the happenings taking place within the jail premises, he said.

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