Open prison system possible in near future

Such facilities allow low-risk convicts to go outside to the city to work

After initiating a semi-open prison system in Tihar Jail last year, the authorities are now mulling the next step – making it an ‘open jail’, where inmates can actually go out of the complex for work and return to it every evening.

Tihar officials say the semi-open jail decision got a very good response. The conduct of many convicts improved as they hoped to get selected under the system.

“In the near future, we might send a proposal to make it an open jail system. There is always scope for moving ahead,” Tihar spokesperson Sunil Gupta tells Deccan Herald.
The open jail system has been working successfully across India. Some 28 prisons in the country follow the open jail system, and most states have at least one of them.

Open prisons, Gupta says, have relaxed security and help prepare inmates for  life outside when they are released. The system also allows convicts to spend a few years of their term with their families, to earn and work in nearby towns – and even build their own homes.

At an open jail in Rajasthan, the authorities have acquired agricultural land where inmates are allowed to build a temporary home, stay with their family members and carry out farming or raise poultry. They move freely across the fields and live a normal life.
“Convicts in open jails are in a transition phase where they make themselves ready for their release,” Gupta says.

He says many open jails allows low-risk convicts to go outside in the city and work there and then return to jail premises.

“As an initiative to reform convicts, open jails give them the freedom to move around freely during the day and earn a living in accordance with their skills set,” he adds.
In some jails, the convicts are allowed to keep their entire earnings, while in others a part is contributed towards the prison trust.

In Bihar's Buxar jail, convicts can stay with their family members in a one-room apartment, and take up work outside the prison according to their skill.

There are many examples where convicts were totally reformed when they were released,  says Gupta.

“We have various limitation and we don’t have land to start an open jail system immediately. We are planning,  and hopefully we will chalk out something in the near future,” he says.

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