Hyderabad: Inmates at the Central Prison, Cherlapally, will soon be able to call their loved ones, as a new facility is inaugurated this month, but will have to pay a very high price for the privilege.
The state’s largest prison is set to be the first to implement a move announced by home minister Sabita Indra Reddy earlier and approved by the state government to provide a telephone facility in jails.
However, what may prove discouraging for most prisoners is the proposed cost of calls __ Rs 40 for a five-minute call or Rs 8 per minute. “There will be additional expenditure for providing the facility, which is being factored in. There will have to be personnel also to provide the service,” CN Gopinath Reddy, director general of the prisons department said when asked about the prohibitive cost of making a call at the Cherlapally jail for prisoners.
Given the fact that prisoners are not allowed to have any money over and above what they make doing odd jobs in jail, it’s doubtful they would be able to make use of the phone facility. Gopinath Reddy pointed out that prisoners could earn up to Rs 70 per day. “In fact, we will also allow undertrials to work, if they are interested, so that they can earn some money,” he said.
The idea envisages installation of one telephone to serve the needs of roughly 2000 prisoners, and it will be available to both undertrials and convicts twice a week to remain in touch with their families. The phone numbers will have to be registered with jail authorities in advance. All calls will be monitored.
The country’s biggest prison, Tihar Jail in Delhi, had introduced a similar facility for its inmates but charges are lower than in Cherlapally. “We charge Rs 5 for a call of five minutes duration (Re 1 per minute). A lot of prisoners make use of the facility and it is running well,” Sunil Kumar Gupta, law officer at Tihar jail informed TOI from New Delhi when contacted.
Jail authorities hope that the new facility will curb the rampant “illegal” use of cellphones by prisoners, which has become a major problem for staff. A proposal to install signal jammers in the jail has failed to materialise.
The Parliamentary standing committee on home affairs headed by Sushma Swaraj had recommended in 2009 that jails all over the country should be provided with telephone facility to check illegal use of mobile phones. The committee had also recommended tapping or monitoring of telephone conversations of jail inmates. TOI