Kerala

Extended lockdown benefits released prisoners

Inmates, sent out to decongest jails, need to return only after public transport is restored

The extended COVID-19 lockdown is turning out to be beneficial for one section of society, the prisoners.

The jail inmates, who were sent out as part of a drive to decongest the jails of the State, can be free birds till the lockdown is lifted and the public public transport system is restored. They were also allowed a grace period of five days from the day of restoration of the public transport system to report back to the jail.

The government decision will benefit 1,818 prisoners who were released from the jails during the spread of the pandemic.

Most of these prisoners were supposed to get back to the jails by April 30, as the lockdown was to end in Kerala on May 3. However, the Centre had extended the lockdown further by a fortnight taking the deadline to May 17. Even after the expiry of the deadline, it may take some more time for the public transport system to become operational.

Exceptions

While releasing the prisoners, the State government had insisted that the accused in cases related to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, those convicted or imprisoned in offences involving their family members, and those punished for the murder of their spouses, parents, children and in-laws shall not be set free. The benefits of the scheme were also denied to those accused or convicted in Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, Prevention of Terrorism Act, Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, Official Secrets Act, Hijacking Act and human trafficking cases.

The government had directed the jail authorities to consider factors like societal and familial acceptance of prisoners while deciding on their release.

As many as 770 prisoners, already out on leave, were granted additional leave of 60 days under the scheme. Interim bail was granted to 690 undertrial and remand prisoners together and 30 others aged above 60 years were also released.

The government had also released 85 prisoners who had completed two-third of their sentence in jails. It was by invoking the remission powers of the government that such prisoners were released, jail department sources indicated. Kerala had 6,298 persons imprisoned in its jails, which have an authorised capacity of 7,231 persons.

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2020 3:57:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/extended-lockdown-benefits-released-prisoners/article31586464.ece

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