Prisons in the State are faced with the challenge of not just curbing the plotting of crimes and gang wars behind bars, but clandestine use of mobile phones.

Smuggling and illegal use of mobile phones by inmates has drastically increased over the years. Checks by prisons guards, mainly in the nine Central prisons in the State, have unearthed mobile phones, SIM cards and chargers. Despite stringent action, plots to commit many grave offences still originate behind bars, thanks to the cellphone.

In the Assembly on Tuesday, the government announced the installation of cellphone jammers in high-security blocks located in Tamil Nadu prisons where hardcore criminals are lodged. When completed, the initiative will be the first of its kind in the State.

K.P. Munusamy, minister for municipal administration, rural development, law, courts and prisons, informed the House that work on installation of the jammers at a total cost of Rs. 5.4 crore would commence soon.

“Nine Central prisons in the State including the Puzhal prison complex on the outskirts of the city will be equipped with jammers to cut the clandestine use of mobile phones by inmates,” the minister said.

The State government is now in the process of installing telephone booths in prisons so inmates can contact their family members and lawyers. “Installation of 54 telephone booths at a cost of Rs. 1.63 crore is on the verge of completion in Central prisons, special prisons for women, district jails and Borstal school in Pudukkottai,” the minister said.

Mr. Munusamy also announced the installation of more CCTV cameras in Central prisons to monitor activities of inmates. Additional communication equipment (walkie talkies) will be provided to prisons officials.

Apart from different measures to step up prison security, the minister also announced welfare schemes for the inmates including the establishment of fly-ash brick manufacturing units, handmade paper units, stainless steel utensils manufacturing units and modernisation of carpentry units in Central prisons.

Upgrading of hospitals and medical facilities for Central prisons in Chennai and Madurai and installation of prison bazaar, selling products made by convicts, is also in the pipeline.

More In: Chennai | News