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Covid: Correctional Admin dept awaits nod to release prisoners

KOLKATA: The state Correctional Administration department is waiting for the directions of the state Legal Services Authority to begin the process of release of prisoners for decongesting the correctional homes across the state in the wake of surge in Covid cases.

The Apex Court on Saturday had directed all states for immediate release of prisoners who were granted bail or parole last year as a preventive measure to stop the spread of Covid virus in the correctional homes.

"We had released 3,000 odd prisoners last year. About 2,000 convicts were released on parole and more than 1000 undertrials on interim bail. However, when the Covid situation showed signs of improvement from November last year, the inmates released gradually returned. Presently, all those, who were released, have returned and the correctional homes are brimming with 26000 inmates lodged in 57 correctional homes including six central correctional homes," a senior official of the state Correctional Administration department said.

He maintained that as per similar directions of the Supreme Court on March 23 last year,

the state Legal Services Authority was formed to consider releasing on parole or interim bail prisoners and the undertrials for offences entailing up to 7 years of jail term to decongest prisons in the wake of the pandemic.

The inmates were released on the basis of their behaviour, gravity of crime and police record of previous criminal antecedents.

As per directions of the Supreme Court, all those who were allowed to go out on bail by the high-powered committees of states and Union Territories (UTs) should be granted the same relief without any reconsideration to avoid delay.

"The process will not take too long as we already have the list of the inmates who were released. We will act as per directions of the state Legal Services Authority," the official added.

There is a serious concern about the spread of COVID-­19 in "overcrowded prisons not only in Bengal but in other states too where there is lack of proper sanitation, hygiene and medical facilities."

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