Kathmandu, March 26
Department of Prison Management is preparing to introduce some key reforms in jails, including provisions of ensuring reproductive right of inmates.
Director of DPM Liladhar Adhikari said childless female and male inmates whose incarceration could lead to passing of the reproductive age would have chance to meet their spouse in a separate rooms in jails so that female inmates or wives of male inmates could conceive.
Adhikari said the DPM decided to introduce this provision as reproductive right was guaranteed in the laws.
Acting Director General of DPM Krishna Prasad Acharya said his department was also trying to increase the daily ration amount for inmates. “The last time when the inmates’ daily allowance was increased to Rs 45 per day was 10 years ago. Inmates get 750 grams of rice and daily allowance of Rs 45. Some other allowances that the inmates get was fixed 30 years ago,” he said, and added that inmates still got 90 paisa or Rs 2 for certain things which were fixed 30 years ago. “A dependent child of an inmate gets only Rs 10 per day. How can a child meet nutrition needs with this meagre sum?” he wondered.
Acharya said that his office also wanted to make provisions for videoconferencing whereby an accused facing trial could record his/her statement through videoconferencing without having to go to the courts.
“In some districts, courts are 44 to 45 kilometres away from the prison. We spend a lot of time and resources to take the accused to court and bring them back to prison,” Acharya said and added that the government was building an open prison in Ganapur, Banke, where 2,000 prisoners could be kept.
New Criminal Code Act, which will come into force on August 17, has made a provision for open prison. Inmates of open prison will have the opportunity to work during daytime but will have to spend the night in jail.
Adhikari said the DPM was also planning to enable jail inmates to make simple household items such as jute chairs, caps and clothes. “Enabling inmates to remain busy in the jail serves two purposes: It helps them to be free from mental stress and it also helps them to learn skills to make a living which can aid their social integration after they are released from jails,” Adhikari added. Adhikari said the DPM also planned to build new jails.
Programme Director at Centre for Victims of Torture Jamuna Paudel said jails were crammed and in some jails all inmates could not sleep at night due to lack of space.
She also said that the government should make provisions for keeping the convicts and accused in separate cells.
Keeping the accused along with hard core criminals adversely affects the psychology of the accused, she argued.
A version of this article appears in print on March 27, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.