Pune District Collector Naval Kishore Ram on Sunday issued an order designating the building of a women’s hostel in Yerawada as a temporary prison to house new inmates admitted to Yerawada Prison to keep them in quarantine and avoid the threat of infection.
The Indian Express had reported earlier that to accommodate new inmates from across the state coming to the jail, buildings near individual jails are being identified to keep them in custody to avoid the spread of infection to those already inside prisons.
The order said the women’s hostel, located in front of the Press Colony in Yerawada, which has been under the Social Justice Department, has been acquired and designated as a temporary jail till further orders. While primary security of the premises will be with the police, the prison department will appoint a jailer and other staff, including guards. The hostel building has not been occupied by the students since the lockdown started.
Similarly, temporary jails are being designated in other districts of Maharashtra, as per the communication from the Additional Director General (Prisons and Correctional Services) Sunil Ramanand to individual district collectors in the third week of April.
Since April 9, the state Prison Department has locked five heavily overcrowded prisons in Mumbai, Pune and Thane district – Arthur Road and Byculla jails in Mumbai, Thane and Kalyan jails in Thane district, and Yerawada Central Prison in Pune – in the backdrop of rapidly increasing number of cases in Mumbai and Pune. Under the lockdown, no new inmates are being admitted in these prisons, and medically examined prison staff has remained inside the prison till further orders. A few more prisons have been locked down in similar manner since then.
On March 26, three days before the nationwide lockdown was ordered, the state government had announced that nearly 11,000 inmates – both undertrials and convicts who have been incarcerated for lesser and non-heinous offences that attract less than seven years of maximum sentence – will be released either on provisional bail or parole, to reduce the crowding in prisons in the state. After the process began on March 28, nearly 5,100 undertrial prisoners from 37 jails across Maharashtra were released till Saturday night.
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