December 1, 2010 2:32:13 am
Punjab will soon stop putting all its bad eggs in one basket. In a sweeping reform of its prison policy,the state has decided to segregate convicts on the bases of their offences.
For example,violent criminals and political agitationists will not be cooped together in the same cells or even jails.
Similarly,there will be separate jails for first-time offenders and professional criminals. And the classification of prisoners will be done at the reception units of prisons,which may house new prisoners for a maximum of seven days.
The state government has enacted a draft Punjab Prison and Correctional Services Act,2010,which establishes separate prisons for different types of prisoners. Under the Act,the Prisons Department of the state will be re-designated as Department of Prisons and Correctional Services.
Prisons will now be graded on security as Special Security,Maximum Security and Medium Security. While special security prisons will house dangerous and violent criminals,escapees,riotous and difficult prisoners,maximum security prisons will house terrorists and professional or organised criminals. Medium security prisons will accommodate adult prisoners who are non-recidivists (not repeat offenders) as defined in the rules.
Within prisons,there will be separate wards for under-trials,open-air correctional homes to enable well-behaved convicts to live with their families,womens correctional homes and separate annexes with separate entrances for women inmates,besides correctional homes for young offenders (18-22 years).
There will be still another kind of prison for detainees involved in public agitations or those confined as a preventive measure.
As per the Act,separate wards will be set up for prisoners suffering from infectious diseases like TB,hepatitis and other chronic ailments that pose a threat to the health of other prisoners. Separate wards will be provided for elderly prisoners (above 65 years) in each central and district prison. Old,infirm and debilitated prisoners would be accommodated in separate wards.
Every person detained in any prison will be entitled to basic minimum needs,such as adequate diet,health and medical care,and treatment,access to clean and adequate drinking water,access to clean and hygienic living conditions,including sanitation and personal hygiene etc. Convicts will also be entitled to petition the prison authorities for any lapse in the provision of basic amenities. The prisoners may seek periodic interviews with members of their family or friends.
About the Act,Director General of Police (Prisons),Anil Kaushik said,The draft Act has been sent to the state government and objections have been invited before notifying it.
The new Act is totally different from the old Act,as the main focus is on correctional measures and reforming the prisoners,while the old Act focused on punishment. Also,duties and rights of prisoners have been defined now , said
Dr Upneet Lalli,Deputy Director of the Institute of Correctional Administration.
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