Jailhouse rock! Facilities galore, so does crowd

Amidst the demanding circumstances, the jail administration has not overlooked the provision of amenities for the inmates.
There are currently 18,774 inmates, occupying these facilities, surpassing the intended capacity of 14,383 in Chhattisgarh
There are currently 18,774 inmates, occupying these facilities, surpassing the intended capacity of 14,383 in Chhattisgarh

RAIPUR: In Chhattisgarh, the issue of overcrowded jails persists across the 33 prisons, including the five Central jails, amidst the purported growth in “amenities”.

There are currently 18,774 inmates (17,989 males + 785 females) occupying these facilities, surpassing the intended capacity of 14,383 in the state.

Despite the construction of eight new jails and renovation of two others since the establishment of Chhattisgarh state in November 2000, managing the congestion remains a formidable challenge. To alleviate the strain experienced in various overcrowded jails, the state has expedited the construction of 58 additional barracks within the existing nine correctional infrastructures, aimed at accommodating an additional 3,000 inmates.

Chhattisgarh comprises five central, 20 district, and eight sub-jails.

In addressing the persistent concerns of overcrowding, the construction of three new facilities is underway as part of an extension—a 200-capacity open jail in Bemetra, a special jail in Bilaspur nearing completion with a capacity for 1,500 inmates, and the commencement of the construction process for a special jail in the capital city of Raipur, intended for 4,000 prisoners.

During the last budget session, State Home Minister Vijay Sharma informed the House that Rs 1,195 lakh had been sanctioned for the construction of barracks in nine jails, including central jails in Jagdalpur and Ambikapur, district jails in Rajnandgaon, Kabirdham, Surajpur, Jashpur, Gariaband, and sub-jails in Manendragarh and Narayanpur.

Despite the burgeoning urban domain in Chhattisgarh, characterized by both size and population growth, the state government currently has no plans to relocate any of the five major central jails situated in the heart of cities, as stated by a senior officer of the jail administration to this newspaper.

Amidst the demanding circumstances, the jail administration has not overlooked the provision of amenities for the inmates. Prisoners are ensured proper hygienic food, clothing, and the best possible medical facilities. Correctional conveniences are rigorously implemented in accordance with jail manuals and reviewed during surprise visits by authorities, human rights commissions, and even judicial officials, the officer added.

Various initiatives have been undertaken, including a prison calling system (telephone service) for inmates to communicate with relatives who cannot visit them, a diploma course in Sanskrit literature operated by Sanskrit Shiksha Mandalam at Raipur Central Jail, and the provision of video conference for accused lodged to be presented before courts on hearing days.

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