Decongest jails temporarily: PUDR

April 02, 2020 02:49 pm | Updated December 03, 2021 06:38 am IST - NEW DELHI

The view of District Jail in Khammam. File photo for representation only.

The view of District Jail in Khammam. File photo for representation only.

The People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) on Thursday asked the government to decongest jails temporarily in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 .

In a statement, the PUDR said jails should be decongested to not more than 60% of their capacity to allow segregation of inmates and maintenance of hygiene. Prisoners with ailments, above 60 years of age, undertrials who had served over half the maximum sentence, convicts who had served three-fourths of their sentence and first-time offenders with minor offences should be released temporarily, it said.

The PUDR said it welcomed the Supreme Court’s March 23 order that asked all the States and the Union Territories to set up a high-powered committee for the release of prisoners during the Coronavirus pandemic.

“What is particularly significant is that the order of the court has noted the serious risk to the lives of prisoners that is being caused by the living conditions prevalent in the jails across the country. The court has also stated that prisoners are more susceptible to contagious viruses,” the statement said, adding that the all-India average of jail occupancy was 117.6% according to the National Crime Records Bureau’s Prisons Statistics in India, 2018.

“At such a level of overcrowding, basic requirements to maintain hygiene cannot be provided, and social distancing mandated to deal with the pandemic cannot be implemented,” the PUDR said.

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