‘Jails understaffed, officials underpaid’

Prisons adviser says recruitments were last made in 2013, pledges to hire more staff soon

Our Correspondent August 07, 2020

It was seven years ago, in 2013, when fresh recruitments were made at Sindh's prisons, said the Sindh chief minister's prisons adviser Aijaz Ali Jakhrani on Wednesday, noting that jails were understaffed and jail officials underpaid.

He made these observations while talking to the media after presiding over a meeting at the Prisons IG's office, where he gave assurances that more jail staff would be recruited soon and efforts were being made to increase the salaries of Sindh's jail staff so that they were at par with those of their Punjab counterparts.

Jakhrani said he had discussed both matters with Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and the CM had told him that "some budgetary issues" were delaying the pay raises for jail staff.

Besides, he said, repair work in prisons and jail staff colonies would begin soon.

New prison law

Speaking with regards to the amended prison law, the adviser said that it would be implemented at the earliest possible time, adding that the home department had been asked to formulate a management policy and board for the purpose.

Elaborating further on the new law, he stated that it authorised prison superintendents to order the parole of inmates for 24 hours in cases of emergencies, including the death or marriage of a close relative. Moreover, the law authorises DIGs and IGs to extend paroles, said Jakhrani, adding that the authority for this earlier resided only with the home department.

The prisons adviser also said that under the new law, jails had been renamed "correctional centres," where inmates would be counselled so that they could act as productive members of society after their release.

"Earlier, people had the impression that no rehabilitation [and counselling] services were being provided in prisons," said Jakhrani, implying that the amendment in the law was aimed at dispelling this impression. As a part of this initiative, indoor games, libraries and other similar facilities would be introduced in prisons, he added.

Jakhrani also told the media that keeping in view the province's weather conditions amid the monsoon season, a rain emergency had been imposed in jails and the leaves of all jail staff had been cancelled.

In response to a question, he maintained that items confiscated by the Rangers during recent raids in Sindh's prisons had wrongly been declared illegal by law enforcers, adding that the confusion may be a consequence of "ignorance of the law."

Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2020.


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