Wednesday, May 08, 2002
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By B.S. Ramesh
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Delhi, has already developed the software for the computerisation programme. The data generated at the Yervada jail is being studied and analysed by experts.
Though the State Department of Prisons has already received the software, officials are waiting for the results of the pilot project before introducing it in the State. Sources in the department told The Hindu on Tuesday that the Yervada experiment was still at an early stage and it would take some time before prison departments in other States adopted it.
Since the programme is very complex and comprehensive, it will be introduced in phases. All the central jails, including the sprawling open-air jail at Parappana Agrahara, will be networked initially. The other jails will be connected later.
Once introduced, the programme is expected to be a boon to not only the police, but also the judiciary and the prison staff.
Now, all prison records are maintained manually. These voluminous records are not easy to access, and neither the police nor the prison staff have been able to take advantage of it.
Another benefit of computerisation lies in monitoring the prison and the prisoners. It is believed that there are scores of undertrials languishing in jails because they have not been able to furnish surety for bail. Many undertrials have spent years in jail. Identifying such undertrials will become easy once the records are computerised. Besides, a Statewide database will help the police in their investigations and in identifying criminals. The final objective is not only to link all the jails in the State, but also link jails in the State to those in other States.
Though a computer has been installed at the Central Jail at Parappana Agrahara, it is being used to maintain office records and for correspondence.
Computers have been supplied to other central jails, but they are mainly used for office correspondence.
Once the software developed by NCRB is installed, the computer network will be put in place in the State.
In an effort to train the prison staff in information technology, the department has already initiated a computer-training programme.
Launched recently at Parappana Agrahara, the programme has received enthusiastic response from the prison staff and the prisoners. In all, 90 prison officials have been enrolled in the training programme.
Overwhelmed by the response to the programme, the Department of Prisons has plans to extend it to the central jails in Bellary and Mysore soon.
The prison administration is taking several other steps, apart from computerisation, to keep pace with the changing times. A series of new welfare measures for prisoners are being worked out, and prisoners at Parappana Agrahara are being trained in vocational courses such as smithery, carpentry, electrical rewinding, gardening, and woodwork. Training in these trades was stopped after the Central Jail was shifted from Gandhinagar to Parappana Agrahara.
Another step taken by the department is the installation of electronic jammers at the Parappana Agrahara jail to prevent use of cell phones by prisoners from within the premises.
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