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Soon, ‘family room’ for Punjab jailbirds
Published on 9 Sep. 2010 12:12 AM IST
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Prisoners in overcrowded Punjab jails have a new hope: the state government is planning one-room dwelling units inside jails to allow inmates to live with their family members for a limited period.
To begin with, Faridkot and Kapurthala jails will have 48 such units each, comprising a room, kitchen, bathroom and an open verandah. With 17,000 convicts and other accused cramped into jails with a combined capacity of only 7,000 in Punjab, it is only natural that many turn violent, and in some cases, nervous wrecks.
“It’s a part of jail reforms, which will be integrated in the Prison Act that the state is in the process of drafting,” said Punjab jails minister Hira Singh Gabria. “There are large number of prisoners who haven’t met their families for long. “This causes stress and trauma,” said Gabria. “If the plan works, then we’d extend it to other prisons,” he said.
The criteria for selection of prisoners, who would have the privilege of staying with their families, has not yet been worked out. But, it would be on rotational basis, sources said. “The duration will not be more than seven to 10 days,” said Gabria.
However, there are apprehensions that the facility might be misused by corrupt jail officials. “There should be a clear cut and fixed eligibility criteria. It should not be left to the whims and fancies of officials,” said Harjit Singh Sandhu, a sociologist working on jail reforms. Jail officials, on the other hand, are hopeful that this will have far-reaching results.

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