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Punjab cabinet okays new rules to replace outdated jails manual

The cabinet noted that the provisions of the Punjab Jail Manual, 1996 had become archaic with the passage of time and there was an imminent need to update it in the changed scenario of modernization, prison computerization, current technological and latest laws.

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Chandigarh: The Punjab Cabinet led by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday gave its nod to Punjab Prison Rules, 2021, under the Prison Act 1894, thus superseding the archaic and outdated jails manual.

The cabinet noted that the provisions of the Punjab Jail Manual, 1996 had become archaic with the passage of time and there was an imminent need to update it in the changed scenario of modernization, prison computerization, current technological and latest laws.

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According to a spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s Office, the Punjab Jail Manual 1996 primarily focused more on safe and secure custody of prisoners. The newly drafted Punjab Prison Rules 2021 lay emphasis not only on safe and secure custody of prisoners but also on other aspects, such as welfare, corrections and aftercare, which have emerged as equally important in modern times.

In order to ensure effective surveillance, safe custody and prevention of escapes, new security parameters have been introduced in the new rules. For lodging of High Risk Prisoners such as gangsters, drug offenders, terrorists, radicals, etc., ‘prisons within prisons’ i.e. High Security Enclosures/Zones have been created. The infrastructural requirements of these enclosures have been defined.

These shall be equipped with wireless sets, alarm system, dedicated power back up, hand-held and doorframe metal detectors, video-conferencing facilities, closed circuit T.V. cameras, X-ray baggage machines, body scanners, and any other modern electronic security devices. A multi-tier security grid has also been placed for better monitoring on the High Security Zones.

Adequate provisions for creation of a welfare fund, meal for employees during their shift, legal assistance, housing, medicare, financial assistance, welfare of retired officers, etc. have been made to keep prison officers motivated. Promotional courses on the line of Punjab Police have also been incorporated for fair and faster promotions.

For reducing recidivism, ensuring successful rehabilitation and social reintegration of released convict prisoners, a framework for aftercare assistance has been incorporated in the new Prison Rules. This will cover many aspects, such as assistance in employment/entrepreneurship, medical treatment, marriage, renting a house, etc.

Various other provisions incorporating the use of technology for a more efficient and effective prison administration have been added to the new Prison Rules. Modern technology shall also assist in maintaining secure custody of inmates.

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