BENGALURU: In perhaps a first in the country, all prisoners in Karnataka aged 45 years and above have received their first dose of Covid vaccination. Over 15,000 prisoners are lodged in various prisons across the State, and 2,167 of them are aged 45 years and above.
“All prisoners in the State have received their first dose of vaccine. They will be administered the second dose as per the revised vaccination protocols. Some of them may also have received their second dose,” said Director General of Police and DG, Prisons & Correctional Services, Alok Mohan.
He added that as per the recent government order, prison authorities will identify eligible prisoners aged between 18 and 44 years for vaccination. Speaking to TNIE, the prison chief said that the Prisons Department, along with the help of the Department of Health and Family Welfare and district administration, have taken up vaccination of prisoners, including under trials and those serving life terms, on a war-footing.
He added that the mass vaccination drive has covered convicts and undertrial prisoners in the eligible age brackets. In another major move to implement one of the key prison reforms and to contain Covid spread, around 90 per cent of prisoners in Karnataka have been produced before courts via video conferencing (VC) in the last one year, he said.
“Before March last year, the number of prisoners being produced before court through VC was negligible,” Mohan added. The prison chief said that in view of the recent Supreme Court direction to decongest prisons in the wake of the ongoing pandemic, the prison authorities are once again identifying prisoners for interim bail and parole.
The apex, court while taking note of the “unprecedented surge” in Covid-19 cases, had recently moved to decongest prisons and ordered the immediate release of prisoners, who were granted bail or parole last year by the high-powered committees of states and Union Territories.
Soon after the outbreak of the pandemic, the Supreme Court on March 23, 2020, had directed all states and UTs to constitute HPCs to consider releasing of prisoners on parole or interim bail and under trial prisoners for offences entailing up to seven-year jail term to decongest prisons.