Married couples serving terms in separate open prisons may get to live together in the same jail, on the lines of a Rajasthan prison.

If everything goes as planned, married couples serving terms in separate open prisons in the State may soon be able to live together in the same open jail. The Department of Prisons is planning to replicate the model of Sanganer Open Jail in Rajasthan at the Central Prison in Thiruvananthapuram.

Director General of Police (DGP), Prisons, Alexander Jacob told The Hindu that the department would submit a proposal to the Home Ministry.

“This will be an important step towards rehabilitation of the prisoners, since they will get an opportunity to lead a normal life with their families. We are yet to conduct a feasibility study for such a model in the State. Further steps will be taken after discussion with officials concerned,” said Mr. Jacob.

At the Sanganer Open Jail, near Jaipur, the convicts are allowed to live with their families after they complete a third of their sentence. The prisoners have their own houses and work on daily wages outside the prison compound. Some teach in nearby schools. Such prisons are characterised more by cooperation among inmates, unlike ordinary jails where they need to follow a set of rules. “We are also looking at options of rehabilitating families, where either the husband or wife is a convict. If the project is approved, this special open jail, the first of its kind in the State, will come up near the special sub-jail in Thiruvananthapuram,” said the DGP. However, there would be a strict selection procedure, based on the lists prepared by the prison superintendents. Habitual offenders, first class prisoners and those convicted in certain types of crimes such as forgery and dacoity would not be eligible for admission to open prisons. The final list would be sent to the selection committee which would examine each case history to make the final decision.

“Though this is a successful model in Rajasthan, other States have not taken it up. There may be additional requirements and the benefits for the prisoners may vary from State to State. But the department is keen on implementing the project,” added Mr. Jacob.

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