69 prisons in Uttar Pradesh have introduced a free of cost phone-call facility for inmates as a measure since visits in person have been stopped to mitigate the threat from COVID-19.
Telephones, therefore, have now become the only way of communication for inmates lodged in these prisons, a step which has been welcomed by the prisoners.
“We were active in providing telephone facilities to inmates. Our jail staff is ensuring that everyone gets the opportunity to connect with their families,” says Anand Kumar, DG, Prisons and Correctional Reforms, Uttar Pradesh.
A survey conducted by Tinka Tinka Foundation in 5 jails of Uttar Pradesh, revealed that the number of phone calls made by the prisoners, increased at least three times during the lockdown period.
In another interesting finding, District Jails of Lucknow and Gautam Buddha Nagar recorded the highest number of phone calls per day – increasing from 7 to 325, and from 38 to 260 respectively.
The survey also revealed that the phone density in the jails range from 435 inmates per phone in Lucknow District Jail to 2079 inmates per phone in Naini Central Jail.
Vartika Nanda, founder of Tinka Tinka Foundation while lauding the move said, “Institutionalization of telephone calls in the Indian prisons is a step forward in augmenting communication amenities for inmates and is a part of ongoing prison reforms. From the days of communication-less jails, we have transitioned to communication-friendly jails helping reformation and healing.”
In another positive move, telephone sets were installed in common areas which helped women inmates to communicate with the outside world. Before the lockdown, women inmates were unable to use the telephones as they were installed at the male section.
Although the inmates are happy with the new mode of communication, they feel that increase in the number of phone sets would bring in more relief.
Due to the inadequate number of telephone sets, inmates have to wait for their turn which may come in 3 to 10 days.
At present, the duration of each call is limited to 2-5 minutes. The increase in phone sets would further address the communication needs of inmates.