Kathmandu, January 18

The government is doing groundwork for making a legal provision to implement the concept of ‘open prison’.

An open prison is a penal establishment where prisoners, who have served at least half their jail term and have demonstrated good conduct, are trusted to do their time with minimal supervision. It aims to ease the pressure of jailbirds in the already crowded prisons of the country and to turn the prisons into correction centres. According to the Department of Prison Management, it is working on the draft of guidelines on open prison which will be submitted to the Ministry of Home Affairs for approval as soon as possible.

Earlier, the government had acquired a plot of land, around 535 ropanis, in Banke for the construction of an open prison. A DoPM source said a building with the capacity of 300 prisoners was under construction at Ganapur of Banke in a manner to operate it by mid-April. Similarly, a tender process has been initiated to construct barracks and administrative building for this purpose.

The government had also announced that ‘work plan on the present reconstruction will be implemented because of the unequal ratio of number of prisoners and the capacity of prisons across the country and dilapidated conditions of the prisons and the damage caused by the earthquakes’.

The country has 74 prisons in 72 of 77 districts. Bhaktapur, Bara and Dhanusha districts do not have any prison while Kathmandu and Dang have two prisons each. The prisons across the country with a total capacity of 12,000 persons are crammed with more than 20,000 jailbirds, according to the DoPM.

The Integrated Report on Custody and Prison Monitoring, 2018, released by the Office of the Attorney General had identified a wide range of problems jailbirds and detainees have been facing in prisons and custody rooms across the country.

The OAG had also told the government to arrange essential services as guaranteed by the constitution and prevailing laws, increase the daily allowance of jailbirds, implement the concept of ‘open prison’, install CCTV cameras, ensure the access of prisoners and detainees to justice, review the existing prison management procedure, establish library and provide sufficient textbooks and vocational training to them.