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CM schedule delays open jail inauguration

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OUR CORRESPONDENT   |   Published 23.04.12, 12:00 AM

The 75 convicts selected to spend the rest of their prison term with their families at an open jail in Buxar will have to wait a little longer for the reunion because of chief minister Nitish Kumar’s packed schedule.

The prison department officials said the chief minister would inaugurate the open jail. “But the date is yet to be finalised. We expect to get an appointment of the chief minister for the same in May,” a senior officer of the prison department said.

The open jail, a first of its kind in the state, spreads across 42 acres of land. It can accommodate 104 convicts.

Seventy-five convicts from around the state would be housed at the open jail with their families and dependants. As the open jail was expected to become functional in mid-April, the 33 prisoners selected from other jails were shifted to Buxar Central Jail on April 11. “We decided to transfer the inmates to the Buxar Central Jail in advance because of security reasons and the forthcoming elections to local bodies,” the officer said.

Inspector-general (prisons) Anand Kishore said the prisoners completing 10 years of their term and showing good conduct would be housed at the open jail.

According to the Bihar Jail Manual, 2008, those who have spent 10 years of their life imprisonment and belong to Bihar can be considered for being lodged at the open jail. The inmate must be above 30 years of age and maintain good conduct.

“We had sought a list of the prisoners fulfilling the criteria from the jail superintendents,” said Kishore.

Bihar Jail Manual, 2008, however, prohibited inmates convicted for mass killing, murder of a public servant, breaching the National Security Act or court-martialled from enjoying the benefits of the open jail. “Such prisoners cannot derive benefits despite good conduct,” an officer said.

Once the list was finalised after scrutiny at different levels, no female prisoner was found eligible to be shifted to the open jail, Kishore said, adding that the state government had enacted a new legislation — Bihar Open Prisons Rules 2008 — to run the jail.

The names of 75 prisoners — 42 from Buxar Central Jail, 13 from Beur Central Jail, 12 from Special Central Jail at Bhagalpur, four from Jubba Sahni Bhagalpur Central Jail and two each from Gaya and Motihari central jails — figured on the list of the convicts selected to be lodged at the open jail. Most of the 75 were sentenced for murder.

A senior officer said although each prisoner would be allotted a one-room flat to live with his parents, spouse and children, the dependants would not be given food by the jail administration.

The prisoners will be allowed to work outside the four walls of the prison but only within a radius of 5km. They would have to be present during the routine counting twice every day. The department has also decided to impart vocational training to the prisoners.

The Buxar open jail is the latest among 26 such jails in the country. A team of prison department officials visited an open jail at Jaipur in Rajasthan to study its functioning.

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