Video-conferencing in all jails soon

To tide over the problem of escorts’ shortage, which has hindered production of under trial prisoners (UTPs) in courts affecting the trial process, the Odisha Government is planning to install video-conferencing system in all districts over the next two years.

At present, video-conferencing facility has been installed in eight major prisons located in Bhubaneswar, Choudwar, Berhampur, Sambalpur, Baripada, Rourkela, Balangir and Koraput. The system, which is aimed at expediting the production of UTPs, is fully operational in Bhubaneswar, Choudwar and Berhampur jails.

The Prison Administration of the State is gearing up to equip district jails of Angul, Dhenkanal, Balasore, Kalahandi, Keonjhar, Puri and Sundargarh with the conferencing system this year. Construction work for installation of the video-conferencing systems had already begun.

It will significantly reduce pressure on local police who have to share its personnel for escort parties. This will also bring down certain vulnerabilities such as escape attempts by the inmates.

The Government is utilising funds from Thirteenth Finance Commission as well as its sources to install the video- conferencing systems. Each jail requires close to Rs 13 lakh for electronic systems while rooms and other infrastructure will cost about Rs 5 lakh.

“Odisha has been a leader among states so far as video-conferencing system in jails is concerned and we will continue with the progress. During 2012-13, we are targeting to equip 15 prisons with the conferencing facility,” IG (Prisons) Pranabindu Acharya said.

Once the systems are installed in all districts, trial rate is expected to be improved because production of UTPs can be expedited.

The prison authorities are also planning to enhance monitoring on the jail premises by augmenting close circuit television (CCTV) systems. While at least 18 jails have CCTV facilities as of now, plans are afoot to install the same in an equal number of jails this year. That apart, the strength of CCTV systems will be augmented in 14 of the existing ones. In Special Jail, Bhubaneswar, there are at least 56 CCTVs.

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