KARACHI: More than 21,000 convicts are housed in 25 prisons of the province, against a sanctioned capacity of around 12,000, informed Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Qaim Ali Shah on Friday.
He was chairing a meeting on jail reforms in light of the recent Supreme Court directives and findings of the federal ombudsman office's at CM House. "This overcrowding is the root cause of several other problems. The objective of turning jails into rehabilitation centres cannot be achieved under the present living conditions [of prisoners], [thus] effective measures are the need of the hour," he said.
Shah claimed he is committed to effective and efficient jail reforms. "Whatever my government has done so far is not enough as much more is needed to turn jails into rehabilitation houses."
The CM said he has been paying surprise visits to the Karachi jail and other prisons as well. "I have tasted the food served at Karachi Central Jail. Its naans are very tasty and the quality of food is considerably better [than at other jails]," he said.
Shakeel Durrani, who represented the federal ombudsman, said a revision of the jail manual is required, along with segregation of under-trial and convicted prisoners, improvement in educational and recreational activities and setting up of an endowment fund for prisoners' welfare.
"At night, what happens in jails is not known," pointed out Shah. "I am of the view that, apart from inspections, there should be electronic surveillance of inmates and jail officials." Jails IG Nusrat Mangan said there are separate jails for children, women and men in Karachi, Hyderabad and Larkana. Home secretary Syed Jamal Shah said the idea to turn jails in rehabilitation houses requires comprehensive planning from all the stakeholders.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2016.
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