Private guards to man jails


In all, around 400 private security guards will be hired to supplement the shortage of staff in the state prisons.

Umesh V Katti, Minister for Prisons, told Deccan Herald: “Jails have been privatised abroad and we will try this here by hiring private security guards. Plans are also afoot to hire the services of doctors, nurses, paramedical staff, carpenters and plumbers on a contract basis.”

Prisons in the state are also going hi-tech. To start with, the department is all set to do away with the age-old headcount and locking system. In its place, biometric systems, electronic locks and surveillance cameras will be installed.

There are around 102 prisons in the state. In all, 69 jails are under the prisons department while 33 small jails in taluks are under the care of the executive magistrates. A total of 14,000 prisoners (both inmates and under-trials) are housed in various prisons in the state, of whom more than 60 percent are undertrials. To keep a watch on the prisoners, there are only 1,200 jail staff. Only 200-odd jail staff are manning more than 4828 prisoners housed in the Bangalore Parappana Agrahara central jail. There is a shortage of nearly 100. The same situation prevails in other prisons in state.

More professional

The ministry is convinced that private agencies are more professional and easy to handle. A senior officer said it was a wrong notion that private security guards were of no use. “In fact, we will have more hold over them. If we are not happy with their services, we can withhold their bills. Initially, we will see to it, the private security staff will not have contact with the inmates.” He said that it would be a daunting task to absorb 400 personnel.

The process of inviting applications, appointment and training will take at least two years to get the required staff. So, as a temporary arrangement, this is the only way out. “We will be using the private security staff at the main gates, to handle visitors, screening the visitors and guests, and mainly to keep vigil around the jail compound. Most of the time, many things like mobile, ganja and cigarettes are thrown inside the jail from outside,” he said.

Katti further said, “We are in the process of streamlining the procedures to take permission for film shooting inside jails. Earlier, just a letter from the information department was sufficient but it will not be the same now. The home secretary/minister's office has to clear the application. There is no point in banning film shooting. We are equipped to handle any situation. It was a just one off case where an undertrial managed to hoodwink the jail staff and escape,” said the minister.

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