Patna, March 5 (IANS) Some convicts in Bihar will soon get a chance to live with their families, step out for work and lead a life similar to that outside prison, thanks to the state's first open jail that will begin functioning in May in Buxar district.
"It will be the first of its kind in Bihar where convicts would be able to live with their families in an atmosphere conducive to development of their skills and talent so they could make useful contributions to society," a prison official said.
According to Anand Kishore, inspector-general (prisons), over 100 prisoners, mostly convicts serving life terms across the state, who have a few years of imprisonment left and have shown good character during incarceration, would be chosen for the open jail.
Officials in the prison department said convicts, currently lodged in the Bhagalpur central jail, Gaya central jail, Muzaffarpur jail and Beur jail in Patna would be considered for it.
Manoj Kumar Sinha, a jail official of the Buxar central prison, told IANS that an open jail is being constructed over 42 acres of land.
"The state government has constituted a committee headed by the inspector general (prisons) to prepare a list of convicts who would be allowed to live in the open jail," he said.
According to him, their good conduct, the period already spent by them in jail and other such things would be taken into account before they are transferred to an open jail.
The inmates of an open jail would be allowed to roam around freely during daytime and their attendance would be taken twice, in the morning and night.
"Work has been going on in full swing and the jail would be ready by March 31 and the convicts along with their families will start living there by May," Sinha said.
The prisoners would not only be allowed to work inside the jail premises but also go to a workplace within a five-kilometre radius. The inmates would also be allowed to have a savings account in the nearest bank or post office for depositing their income.
An official of the Buxar district administration said about 13 double-storey apartments with two-room flats on each floor are now getting the final touches to house such inmates.
Superintendent of Buxar jail S.K. Ambastha, who has been assigned the additional charge of the open jail, said the state government had enacted new legislation by the name of 'Bihar Open Prison Rules-2008' to run this prison.
Ambastha said the children of these inmates would be provided free education by the state government as per the norms of the Right to Education Act.
Sinha said the open jail would have friendly interiors and the inmates would enjoy amenities like a community hall and a park inside its premises.
"A workshop is also planned for imparting vocational training to the inmates," he said.
It will be the country's 33rd open jail, the first such prison having been set up in Rajasthan in 1963.
Bihar has 54 jails, including six central jails, where nearly 40,000 prisoners are lodged.
(Imran Khan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)