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Tihar inmates get a new lease on life outside prison walls

Staff Reporter
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The talented inmates of Delhi's Tihar Jail.- Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar
The talented inmates of Delhi's Tihar Jail.- Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

The longstanding proposal for a semi-open jail at the high-security Tihar Central Jail here has been given the final go-ahead paving the way for eligible convicted inmates to earn their livelihood outside the four walls of the prison. The move presents yet another opportunity for rehabilitation and gradual reintegration of the convicts into society.

The facility, which is already in place at 31 prisons across the country, was sanctioned by the authorities concerned with the acceptance of the draft guidelines provided by the Tihar Jail officials. “The proposal has been accepted by the Chief Minister and the Lieutenant-Governor. Under the semi-open jail facility, eligible convicted inmates will be allowed to work outside during the day,” said Director-General (Prisons) Neeraj Kumar

As per the guidelines, a committee headed by the Deputy Inspector-General (Prisons) and comprising jail superintendents has been set up to screen records of the convicts and decide on the eligibility. The open-jail facility is envisaged for those convicted for 5 to 10 years' imprisonment, who have consistently displayed good conduct, have served 75 per cent of their jail term, have earned three furloughs and nothing adverse against them came to notice during their temporary release, establishing their credibility.

None of those having shown bad behaviour or convicted in heinous crimes involving moral turpitude, kidnapping, drug trafficking, terrorism, sedition or any other serious offences will be eligible for the facility. Foreigners, members of organised criminal gangs and repeated offenders will also not be eligible for open-jail treatment.

Describing the literacy drive “ Padho Aur Padhao ” launched in coordination with the Union Human Resource Development Ministry last April as a great success, Mr. Kumar said the scheme was first introduced on a trial basis in Jail No.6 (for women) and Jail No.7 (for adolescents). “Forty per cent of the inmates were totally illiterate, but now it has drastically reduced to 7 per cent, which is a great achievement. Practically all the jail inmates are today literate barring a small floating population,” he said.

The inmates have the opportunity to pursue further studies through the National Institute of Open Schooling and IGNOU. In fact, 597 of them are enrolled in various courses offered by IGNOU and about a thousand with the NIOS.

The jail authorities have also been organising campus interviews for job placements of eligible inmates. On the security front, Mr. Kumar said in addition to 258 cameras, 233 new ones are being installed and apart from 11 existing mobile phone signal jammers, 21 more are being installed to block services like incoming and outgoing calls, short-messaging-service and mobile web access. The existing jammers have been upgraded in accordance with 3G technology.

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