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Govt plans phone kiosks in jails

The state jail department plans to set up state-of-the-art phone kiosks inside high-security central jails on the lines of those in the US to provide basic communication facilities for inmates and relief to their family members who have to often travel long distances to meet them.

Written by Ravik Bhattacharya | Kolkata |
January 28, 2009 4:49:14 am

The state jail department plans to set up state-of-the-art phone kiosks inside high-security central jails on the lines of those in the US to provide basic communication facilities for inmates and relief to their family members who have to often travel long distances to meet them. The government said it would also curb the menace of the inmates using cell phones inside the jail premises.

Only a few days ago,the police had seized six cell phones during a three-hour surprise raid at the Alipore Central Jail.

For a start,phone booths will be set up in the three central jails of Alipore,Presidency and Dum Dum next month and,if successful,the project will be replicated in other jails in the state.

The government said it would weed out corruption in the jail interview system. “Today,I spoke to the home secretary about the plan and he has given a go-ahead. The project will be in place soon. The model is based on jails in the US and other developed countries. We have proposed a pilot project in the three central jails in the city to start with and later,it can be replicated in all other jails. There will be phone booths and convicts using them will have to pay,” said B D Sharma,additional director general (jails).

According to the project,one or more modern phone kiosks will be put up inside the central jails and each of them will be manned by an officer. The convicts will be required to submit the phone numbers a day before the call is supposed to be made and the same will be verified by the authorities and sanctioned. The jail authorities will then earmark a particular time and allow the convict to make the call.

For security reasons,booth officers will be present during the conversation. The calls will be charged from the accounts of convicts. In case of convicts,the charges will be deducted from the “wages” while for undertrials,it will be deducted from their cash kept with the jail authorities.

“Relatives of convicts come to the jails from far-flung villages in the districts and wait in long queues to meet their dear ones. This will provide relief for them and mental support for the convicts. Moreover,the move is expected to reduce the influx of visitors in the jails as well as curb corruption in interviews,” Sharma added.

The jail authorities also have initiated booking of interviews through telephone in the central jails. Through the facility,the family members of convicts call up designated officers in the jail who give them a particular date and time,when they meet the convict. Usually the process is done by visiting the jail and waiting for hours for one’s turn.

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