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Bihar: Many jails have more than double their prisoner capacity

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PATNA, April 27 (PTI): Amid a raging debate over the release of 27 convicted prisoners in Bihar, the latest figures released by the state home department underscore the need for decongesting 59 jails where nearly 62,000 inmates are currently lodged.

The figures uploaded by the state home department on its website till March 31 pegged the capacity of 59 jails, including eight central prisons, at 47,750.

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However, 61,891 prisoners are languishing in these prisons. This means the prisons have nearly 30 per cent more prisoners than they should be housing.

The worst hit is Jamui district jail, where 822 inmates are occupying a space meant for 188 prisoners, implying more than four-times the number are being penned in this jail.

According to sources in the home department, the Jamui district jail is one of the 38 prisons which is housing double or more than its sanctioned capacity of inmates.

Officials said they were pointing to these statistics to merely underscore the need for reforms in prison management and said the much maligned order to allow remission of sentences to prisoners who have served more than 14 years in jail was one such.

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The release of gangster-turned-politician Anand Mohan Singh from Saharsa jail on Thursday which has attracted much criticism from the opposition is one such case permitted under a jail sentence remission order after the state government recently amended prison rules allowing the early release of 27 convicts including him.

Anand was serving a life term for his alleged role in the 1994 murder of the then Gopalganj collector G Krishnaiah, a young IAS officer, during the funeral procession of Muzaffarpur gangster Chotan Shukla.

The Nitish Kumar government, on April 10, amended the Bihar Prison Manual, 2012 and among others removed a clause which said those convicted for “murder of a public servant on duty” could not be given remission of their jail term.

Abhayanand, former director general of police (DGP), Bihar, told PTI, “It is true that the number of inmates in state prisons is increasing day by day. I feel that overcrowding in prisons can be reduced by a speedy trial of cases as well as granting bail to the accused after a certain period in some specific cases”.

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The latest statistics reveal that of the 61,891 prisoners languishing in Bihar jails, 59,270 are males and 2,621 are females.

Among the central prisons in the state, the Adarsh Central jail,  Beur (Patna), had the highest number of prisoners at 5,841 against the sanctioned capacity of 2,360 inmates. This prison is accommodating two-and-half  times its carrying capacity.

Other central jails that are accommodating far more prisoners than their capacity in the state are Central Jail (Purnea)-140 per cent, Central Jail (Gaya)-130 per cent, Shahid Khudiram Bose Central Jail (Muzaffarpur)-120 per cent, Central Jail (Motihari)-120 per cent and Shahid Jubba Sahni Central Jail (Bhagalpur)-115 per cent.

Madhepura district jail currently has 742 inmates against its official capacity of 182, followed by sub-jail (Patna city) with 145 inmates against the official capacity of 37, sub-jail (Barh) has 560 inmates against 173, district jail (Sitamarhi) has 1,817 inmates against 578, district jail (Aurangabad) has 860 inmates against the sanctioned capacity of 309, and the sub-jail (Danapur) has 195 inmates against the sanctioned capacity of 87.

Despite repeated attempts by the PTI, Bihar law minister, Shamim Ahmad, could not be contacted for comments on the issue.

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