CHANDIGARH: Nearly 47 per cent of inmates in 25 jails of Punjab are addicted to drugs, according to a first-of-its-kind screening of the prisoners. As per the screening of about 30,000 inmates in 25 prisons, approximately 14,000 prisoners have been found to be addicted to drugs, according to the drive done last month.
The maximum number of 2,200 drug addicts has been found in Ludhiana Central Jail, followed by Kapurthala at 2,000, Amritsar Central Jail at 1,600, and Faridkot Central Jail at 1,064 and Bathinda Central Jail at 647.
Prisoners have been found to be using drugs like morphine, tramadol and buprenorphine, according to the screening drive. Alarmingly, many prisoners who had no previous record of addiction were found to have become addicts.
“This state-wide screening project was aimed at making prisons free from drugs and taking measures to make inmates undergo de-addiction programmes. The idea is to reform and rehabilitate prisoners who are addicted to drugs,’’ according to a senior prison department official.
Taking note of the huge number of drug addict inmates, the state government has set up a special task force to check the drug menace. Punjab Jails Minister Harjot Singh Bains said that 19 prisons comprise more than 95 per cent of the number.
He said that a ‘peer support’ network will be established in association with Narcotics Anonymous, an international non-profit society working to check the drug menace. Bains said that ‘peer support’ meetings in jails have already been launched in 19 jails, while the initiatives will be rolled out in the six other prisons soon.
The minister said that ‘peer support’ meetings are vital in tackling drug abuse and de-addiction treatment. He said written material printed by the jail press will be circulated among inmates.