Makeshift sheds proposed as jails overcrowded

Muktadir Rashid | Published: 23:31, Aug 20,2018 | Updated: 12:05, Aug 21,2018


Central Jail in Keraniganj --- File photo

The prison authority has proposed construction of makeshift sheds in prisons to accommodate increasing inmates that has aggravated the situation in the 68 jails in Bangladesh overcrowded with 87,000 inmates against the capacity of 36,614.
Inspector general of prisons Syed Iftekhar Uddin made the proposal in a letter to the home ministry on August 8 stating that the inmates were in an inhume situation as their number kept rising.
A Tk 3.25 crore project proposal for the constructions was also sent, said officials.
In the letter, the inspecto general of prisons urged the government to build makeshift facilities inside five prisons in Narshingdi, Gazipur, Narayanganj, Munshiganj and Manikganj creating rooms for 40 inmates at each of the sheds in 3-4 months as the number of inmates in those prisons was 5-10 times the capacity.
According to the jail statistics, the number of inmates was 2,023 in Narayanganj jail against the capacity of was 200 and 863 in Manikganj district jail against the capacity of 100, as of August 8.
According to the department of prisons, 86,455 inmates, as of Sunday, were languishing in the 68 prisons against the capacity of 36,614. The authorities believed that the number of inmates increased as the pattern and level of crimes increased.
Officials expressed fear of infectious diseases and heatstroke amongst the inmates and said that over 2,600 inmates were suffering from respiratory complications and tuberculosis.
They said that over 38, 000 inmates were either exposed to drug-related problems or arrested in connection with drugs.
The officials said that the number of inmates usually increased during any crackdown or any political tension.
By May 31, prisons across the country became overcrowded with 85,859 inmates when the law enforcement agencies continued to
arrest people in the ongoing nationwide anti-drug drive.
Prison directorate officials said that 32,502 people landed in jail in drugs-related cases being arrested in the anti-drug drive in May 12 and August 16.
The statistics showed that the number of inmates was 88,424 on August 13 which was the highest
after 2005, when 73,192 inmates were in jails against the capacity of 28,668.
The number of inmates began rising in February before Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson Khaleda Zia was jailed on February 8 in a graft case.
The number of inmates was about 77,500 with average release of 2,000 people and landing of 1,200 people per day in early February. The number reached 80,697 on May 12.
Statistics showed that 69,189 under-trial prisoners, 17,504 convicts, 1,611 death row convicts and 81 people who had
served pout the sentences but yet to be release, were in the 68 jails, as of August 13 while.
Rights activist Nur Khan Liton said that when the number of inmates increased, their condition also deteriorated.
In August 2010, the government freed 1,000 life-term prisoners, including those serving
multiple sentences for crimes such as murder, to ease the pressure on overcrowded jails.
Home ministry officials said that they had already asked jail authorities to prepare a list of about 3,000 convicts serving jail terms for petty crimes to release them in phases to make spaces in jails.
National Human Rights Commission chairman Kazi Reazul Haque visited Chittagong, Sylhet and Rangpur prisons in the past four months.
He said that he saw inmates at least three times the capacity.
He said that any suspect should be arrested based on specific allegations and bail should be given if there was no chance of the suspect to leave the country or influence the trial or investigation.

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