Punjab plans separate prisons for different kinds of prisoners

Punjab will soon stop putting all its 'bad eggs' in one 'basket'. In a sweeping reform of its prison policy, the state has decided to segregate convicts on the bases of their offences.

For example, violent criminals and political agitationists will not be cooped together in the same cells or even jails.

Similarly, there will be separate jails for first-time offenders and professional criminals. And the classification of prisoners will be done at the reception units of prisons, which may house new prisoners for a maximum of seven days.

Graded quarters

The state government has enacted a draft Punjab Prison and Correctional Services Act, 2010, which establishes separate prisons for different types of prisoners. Under the Act, the Prisons Department of the state will be re-designated as Department of Prisons and Correctional Services.

Prisons will now be graded on security as 'Special Security', 'Maximum Security' and 'Medium Security'. While special security prisons will house dangerous and violent criminals, escapees, riotous and difficult prisoners, maximum security prisons will house terrorists and professional or organised criminals. Medium security prisons will accommodate adult prisoners who are non-recidivists (not repeat offenders) as defined in the rules.

Within prisons, there will be separate wards for under-trials, open-air correctional homes to enable well-behaved convicts to live with their families, women's correctional homes and separate annexes with separate entrances for women inmates, besides correctional homes for young offenders (18-22 years).

There will be still another kind of prison for detainees involved in public agitations or those confined as a preventive measure.

Quarantine measures

As per the Act, separate wards will be set up for prisoners suffering from infectious diseases like TB, hepatitis and other chronic ailments that pose a threat to the health of other prisoners. Separate wards will be provided for elderly prisoners (above 65 years) in each central and district prison. Old, infirm and debilitated prisoners would be accommodated in separate wards.

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