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CAG exposes lack of basic amenities, safety in State jails

By Staff Reporter
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GUWAHATI, March 27 - Jails in the State lack basic amenities and the overall security of the prisons and safety of prisoners have been compromised, an audit report by the Comptroller & Auditor General of India has stated.

The audit was carried out in the year 2015-16. It said that while the ideal sanctioned strength of custodial/guarding staff as prescribed under the Model Prison Manual (MPM) itself remained to be achieved, the actual position of guarding staff was far less than the sanctioned strength.

MPM provides that prisons should have barbed wire fencing with a thick outer masonry wall (at least 20 feet high), watch towers both inside and outside the jails, in addition to one central tower within the enclosure. Except for five jails, no other jail had watch towers inside the campus. Eight jails did have a single watch tower. Test-checks also revealed that the height of the boundary walls of 20 jails ranged from 10 feet to 18 feet, while 26 jails had no fencing with barbed wires.

Also, none of the jails had any CCTV installed nor was any indent sent to the government in this regard.

Between January, 2012 and December, 2015, 41 prisoners managed to escape from jail custody, while another 21 escaped while being taken to courts. Only 12 were re-apprehended. The escape was facilitated by the deficiencies in security like absence of CCTVs, shortage of guards, insufficient watch towers and inadequate higher security enclosures, and despite the incidents, no corrective steps were taken by the department, the CAG observed.

There were also security lapses at the gates as the security staff manning them were not equipped with instruments for detecting explosives etc.

�It is the responsibility of the prison management to ensure that prisoners are prohibited from getting access to LPG. Physical verification in Central Jail, Guwahati, revealed that prisoners had access to LPG cylinders as part of the process of cooking by the prisoners themselves. The department, however, stated that only one post of cook had been sanctioned across all the 31 jails,� the CAG report stated.

Scrutiny of information provided by the Prison (headquarters) revealed that in all the 31 jails, history tickets were primarily maintained only in respect of convicted prisoners.

As per the Prisons Act, history tickets of the inmates should be maintained, indicating their biodata, identification number, fortnightly weight, health status on regular basis.

As on March, 2016, out of the 8,604 inmates, history tickets of only 3,362 prisoners were being maintained, leaving 5,242 prisoners out of the ambit of monitoring and regard to their health status. �This non-maintenance of history sheets of 5,242 prisoners prevented the prison authorities from prompt retrieval of prisoner details essential in emergent situations,� the report stated.

Between 2011 and 2015, seven unnatural cases of death of inmates were reported in the State jails, and despite that, the medical facilities were not upgraded. Ten jails had part-time doctors while two jails � Sadiya and Hamren � had no doctors posted in the last five years.

The female prisoners too were vulnerable to untoward incidents of forceful intrusions of unauthorised persons as the premises in which they are kept were not fully secured. Also, the prison population exceeded the registered capacity and the jails had insufficient numbers of toilets.

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CAG exposes lack of basic amenities, safety in State jails

GUWAHATI, March 27 - Jails in the State lack basic amenities and the overall security of the prisons and safety of prisoners have been compromised, an audit report by the Comptroller & Auditor General of India has stated.

The audit was carried out in the year 2015-16. It said that while the ideal sanctioned strength of custodial/guarding staff as prescribed under the Model Prison Manual (MPM) itself remained to be achieved, the actual position of guarding staff was far less than the sanctioned strength.

MPM provides that prisons should have barbed wire fencing with a thick outer masonry wall (at least 20 feet high), watch towers both inside and outside the jails, in addition to one central tower within the enclosure. Except for five jails, no other jail had watch towers inside the campus. Eight jails did have a single watch tower. Test-checks also revealed that the height of the boundary walls of 20 jails ranged from 10 feet to 18 feet, while 26 jails had no fencing with barbed wires.

Also, none of the jails had any CCTV installed nor was any indent sent to the government in this regard.

Between January, 2012 and December, 2015, 41 prisoners managed to escape from jail custody, while another 21 escaped while being taken to courts. Only 12 were re-apprehended. The escape was facilitated by the deficiencies in security like absence of CCTVs, shortage of guards, insufficient watch towers and inadequate higher security enclosures, and despite the incidents, no corrective steps were taken by the department, the CAG observed.

There were also security lapses at the gates as the security staff manning them were not equipped with instruments for detecting explosives etc.

�It is the responsibility of the prison management to ensure that prisoners are prohibited from getting access to LPG. Physical verification in Central Jail, Guwahati, revealed that prisoners had access to LPG cylinders as part of the process of cooking by the prisoners themselves. The department, however, stated that only one post of cook had been sanctioned across all the 31 jails,� the CAG report stated.

Scrutiny of information provided by the Prison (headquarters) revealed that in all the 31 jails, history tickets were primarily maintained only in respect of convicted prisoners.

As per the Prisons Act, history tickets of the inmates should be maintained, indicating their biodata, identification number, fortnightly weight, health status on regular basis.

As on March, 2016, out of the 8,604 inmates, history tickets of only 3,362 prisoners were being maintained, leaving 5,242 prisoners out of the ambit of monitoring and regard to their health status. �This non-maintenance of history sheets of 5,242 prisoners prevented the prison authorities from prompt retrieval of prisoner details essential in emergent situations,� the report stated.

Between 2011 and 2015, seven unnatural cases of death of inmates were reported in the State jails, and despite that, the medical facilities were not upgraded. Ten jails had part-time doctors while two jails � Sadiya and Hamren � had no doctors posted in the last five years.

The female prisoners too were vulnerable to untoward incidents of forceful intrusions of unauthorised persons as the premises in which they are kept were not fully secured. Also, the prison population exceeded the registered capacity and the jails had insufficient numbers of toilets.