Shazia Nisar

Prisons could either be correctional facilities to make criminals into law abiding citizens or only place them behind bars.

This also raises the questions whether or not Pakistani prison system has the potential to turn an inmate into a law abiding citizens. If this has been the case, then, our prison system would not have been choked under the beyond capacity load of prisoners.

If we look at Pakistan’s prison system, then, the inmates of KP jails are facing multiple problems. Currently five central jails, six district jails and 14 sub-jails were operational and facing the issue of lack of resources coupled with high number of prisoners.

Peshawar Central Jail which was setup in 1854 has space to accommodate 800 inmates; however, due to its being the province’s major prison, it has always struggled with excess number of prisoners. Even recent construction of new barracks has also failed to keep pace with the high number of inmates. Currently, 4000 inmates are being held in this prison built for 3000 persons. Of 4,000 inmates, 217 are facing death sentence, 53 juvenile and 83 women are serving their terms. In addition to this, more than 300 prisoners on charges of terrorism are also incarcerated in this prison.

Similarly, Charsadda prison has capacity to 210 prisoners; however, currently holding 450 prisoners. On the other hand, Nowshera jail is housing 400 prisoners against a capacity of 180, Swabi prison 500 in palace of 120 prisoners.

The same situation is being faced by the Bannu, Kohat, Lakki Marwat and other prisons of the province.

The prisons are also facing health problems due to keeping beyond capacity prisoners and prisoners are facing AIDS, tuberculoses, Hepatitis and pulmonary issues.

Recently, TB programme officials visited the Mardan prison and screening of 60 prisoners confirmed six of them were suffering from tuberculoses including three of them multi-drug resistant TB.

Similarly, Peshawar central jail is currently holding 10 AIDS, two TB, 15 Hepatitis-C and five Hepatitis B patients. On the other hand, dozens of AIDS, Hepatitis-B and C patients were also languishing in different prisons of the province and it was also worrying these diseases might as well spread among other inmates.

Providing inmates with suitable environment will not only help in making hardened criminals into law abiding citizens but will also resolve the issues faced by the inmates.

Besides, health issues, inmates shortage of latrines, suffocation in summer, quarrels and other psychological issues as well. At the same time, higher number of inmates was also head ache for prison administration.

Sadaat Hussain, inspector general for prison KP said that jail manual forbids overcrowding. He said that KP prisons have space to accommodate 13,000 imamates; however, currently 15,000 prisoners were lodged in jails across the province.

Mr Hassan said that due to rising crimes, jails were facing shortage of space to accommodate inmates. “We are focusing on prisoners moral and character building,” he said.

The IG said that jail authorities were also paying attention to health issues of the prisoners and treatment was being provided for all kinds of diseases.

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