HYDERABAD: Lack of staff who could be deputed as prisoner escorts has become a blessing in disguise for prison inmates intending to escape. But it has turned out to be a problem for those who want an early release, either from the courts or from the hospital.
The problem of adequate prisoner escorts was highlighted by the escape of the six lifer convicts from the Institute of Mental Health in Erragadda. They had been overstaying by two days, as the police department couldn't provide prisoner escorts to take them back to jail.
The lack of prisoner escorts has also led to many undertrials not able to attend court hearings on the scheduled days. Moreover, sick prisoners are often not being taken to hospital due to the shortage of staff. K Narasimha Rao, a convict serving life sentence at Chanchalguda prison says, "My schedule of court attendance has been postponed thrice." He adds that another inmate S Satyanarayana, could not be brought back for one week, after being admitted at the IMH for treatment in October.
Dr V Pramod Kumar, superintendent of the mental hospital says, "Convicts serving life terms who come here for treatment are most of the time not taken back to even after being given discharge. The delay ranges from five days to three weeks. The hospital finds it difficult to provide security to them."
The Armed Reserve Force arranges escorts for prisoners but it is plagued by shortage of staff. KL Srinivasa Rao, superintendent of Cherlapally prison said, "Whenever we ask the Armed Reserve Force to provide ten prisoner escorts, we are given just two. This makes it difficult to transport prisoners safely."
Police commissioner AK Khan said, "I agree we are not able to send enough prisoner escorts when required. There is a lack of staff and we also have to focus on maintaining peace and safety during religious festivals and control agitations." N Suryanarayana, joint commissioner of police, City Armed Reserve said, "We are gradually planning to provide enough prisoner escorts."