Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday sought from the Department of Prisons a proposal for establishment of ‘Open Jail for Women’-a first-of-its-kind in the state, to enable women prisoners to work outside the inner jail premises and help in their rehabilitation after release.After inaugurating the newly constructed Waiting Hall for the families of the inmates during his visit to the Patiala Central Jail, the Chief Minister was informed by ADGP Prisons Rohit Chaudhary that the department already had an Open Jail for Male inmates in Nabha and there was a proposal for setting up more such jails at Bathinda, SBS Nagar and Kapurthala under active consideration.The waiting hall would be beneficial for the families of inmates coming from distant places, who had earlier to wait for their turn earlier either in open or makeshift sheds. These waiting halls are well equipped with facilities like washrooms, water coolers, television etc. Utility stores have also been set up in these waiting halls from where the families can buy items of daily need and give them to their inmate relatives. The waiting halls are successfully constructed in Central Jail Patiala, Ludhiana and Kapurthala, and work is in progress in Central Jail Ferozpur, Hoshiarpur, New Jail Nabha and Distrcit Jail Sangrur.Chaudhary also told the Chief Minister that the State Government had already approved funds to the tune of Rs 60 Crores for purchase of security equipment, weapons, building infrastructure and modernisation of prisons, and also for purchase of vehicles for the Prison Department, to further strengthen the existing infrastructure in the state jails. Further, all the prisons have been declared polythene free from now, and the carry bags used in canteens will be made from waste newspapers, he added.
On the occasion, Captain Amarinder also launched e-purse system to facilitate prisoners to buy items of daily needs inside the jail. This system has also been introduced in 15 prisons across the state, where all the financial transactions would be conducted through computer software with the help of smart cards.The Chief Minister also inaugurated a solar power plant installed in the local Central Jail with a capacity of 320 KWP, in order to make the jail eco-friendly. Chaudhary also informed the Chief Minister that such solar plants were also being set up in 19 prisons across the state with a total power capacity of 5000 units.The Chief Minister lauded the work done in the prison industries during his visit to an exhibition put up by the department, where products made by the inmates of different jails of the state were displayed. Captain Amarinder evinced keen interest in products such as bakery items, furniture, garments, paintings, LED bulbs and phulkaris, manufactured by the inmates in prison factories.Meanwhile, the ADGP Prisons also apprised Captain Amarinder that the proposal for setting up of Punjab Prison Development Board was already with the Government.Later the Chief Minister also visited the High Security Zone of Central Jail Patiala, where hardcore criminals were lodged, and reviewed the security of the zone. Notably, a total of 21 High Security Zones in 12 prisons had been established as per the recommendations of the committee set up after the sensational Nabha Jail Break. These zones are well equipped with security equipment like CCTV cameras, DFMD/HHMD and a separate enclosure with X-ray baggage machine for scanning the bags and other items of the inmates. The Chief Minister was also informed about the new policy of reforming the gangsters. Criminals with a clean prison and apparently ready to give up criminal activities are shifted out of the High Security Zones to Security Barracks.The Chief Minister visited the crèche inside the jail, where he interacted with the convicted, under trials and their wards. He interacted with the newly promoted staff of the prisons department and assured them of the revival of new posts in an effort to avoid stagnation in promotions on the one hand and better prison management on the other. Prominent amongst those who accompanied the Chief Minister were Former Union Minister Preneet Kaur, Media Advisor to CM Raveen Thukral, IG Patiala Zone A S Rai, DIG Jails Patiala Circle Lakhminder Singh Jakhar, Additional Principal Secretary to CM Girish Dayalan, Deputy Commissioner Kumar Amit, SSP Mandeep Singh Sidhu and Senior Superintendent of Jail Jaspal Singh Hans.