Meghalaya Inspector General of Prisons, M Kharkrang on Friday flagged off five under trial prisoner (UTP) vans, which were sanctioned as part of the prison reforms in the state.
Addressing media persons, Kharkrang informed that the vehicles will be placed at the disposal of the district police and one will be placed at the SDPO, Dadenggre as they also have lots of transportation of inmates to court.
The cost of each UTP van is Rs 19 lakh.
He said the department wants to change its approach towards the jail inmates and make it a more humane approach while asserting that the department’s motto is “changing lives through corrective measures”.
Kharkrang further informed that the department has also initiated a skill development programme with the support of the Meghalaya Skill Development Society (MSDS).
“They will be starting off with the Shillong district jail where they will be teaching the jail inmates with various skills including computer training,” he said. According to him, the training will not be imposed but it will depend on the willingness of the inmates.
“If they want to be trained in any skill development, we will willingly impart the training to them. Subsequently, we are looking at placing them with various employment agencies (for job placement) after they have left the prisons,” he added.
Kharkrang also said that the department is also tying with the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd for coming up with a coaching programme for jail inmates in any sports discipline. He said the programme will be launched on January 26.
Further, the IG informed that they are also proposing to change the nomenclature of the department from Prison department to Prison & Correctional Services department.
“As far as I know the approval has been given and shortly the government will come up with a notification in this regard,” he said.
He added that training will also be imparted to the jail warders on behavioral approach as they are the ones who are interacting with the inmates on a daily basis.
On measures taken to prevent spread of COVID-19 among jail inmates, the IG Prisons said precautionary steps have been taken right from the time when COVID hit the state.
“(As) things have improved, we have started to allow the inmates to meet with their relatives because it has been a long time since they have not been able to meet up with their relatives. (However), if things worsen, I think we have to close that down also. But the thing is that one facility we have given to all inmates is that they can communicate with their relatives and loved ones anything that they wish to on mobile,” he said.