LAHORE: Chief Minister Usman Buzdar on Wednesday announced a prison package of Rs5.5 billion at the Central Jail, Kot Lakhpat, and hinted at revamping the 127-year-old jail manual.
Speaking at a ceremony, the chief minister promised that the protection of prisoners’ rights would be ensured along with the transformation of prisoners as useful citizens of society.
“The prisoners are not despicable as only crime is to be hated,” he said and announced 60 days’ remission in the sentences of prisoners with regard to Eid-i-Milad.
The chief minister directed that the prisoners should be allowed to have mattresses, blankets and pillows while geysers be installed in all jails in winter. Alongside, he said, news and entertainment channels would be aired through cable networks on LED TVs in jails. He said air-coolers, exhaust fans, LED lights and additional fans would be installed in jails to save the inmates from harsh weather conditions.
Similarly, he said, every prisoner would be given a monthly amount from sale of manufactured products with the cooperation of industries. He said poor and juvenile inmates would also be provided facility of public call office for making contact with their families and women prisoners be provided all necessary facilities and their children up to the age of six years be given education and recreational facilities besides establishing daycare centres.
Mr Buzdar said nutritional needs of the children would be taken care of and juvenile inmates protection be ensured and no one be allowed to exploit them. He said sports and other recreational facilities would also be arranged in collaboration with the Punjab Sports Board and the Punjab Prisons Foundation. Similarly, he said, education for inmates be provided with the support of the Punjab Literacy Department and the National Commission for Women Development.
The chief minister said the health department would establish medical camps every month in all the prisons of Punjab and best treatment facilities would be provided in hospitals of prisons and vacant posts of doctors and other staff be filled. He said doctors would also get special allowance with their salaries.
He said all the prisons would be gradually shifted on solar energy to overcome the problem of loadshedding.
Mr Buzdar said a comprehensive system was being devised for the payment of challan and diyat every year in Ramazan so that inmates involved in petty cases could be benefited. Similarly, he said, poor and orphans would be extended free legal aid with the cooperation of law and prosecution departments. He said a parole committee had been constituted for ensuring measures for the release of old handicapped and ailing inmates.
He said additional barracks would be constructed keeping in view the number of inmates in the prisons and steps were being taken to facilitate the inmates in meeting their families and relatives.
The chief minister stressed that quality food items on fixed prices be ensured in jails’ canteens as it was a bad practice to overcharge the inmates. He directed that this culture should change and quality items be provided to inmates at fixed rates. He announced change in timings of lunch and dinner in prisons.
He said service structure of the jails staff had been given special focus and pay package had also been given to the jail staff on the eve of Ashra-e-Shan-e-Rehmat-ul-Lil-Alameen. He also announced prisons security allowance equivalent to one additional basic pay costing Rs2.77 billion on this package.
Published in Dawn, October 14th, 2021