COVID-19: Remand prisoners to be in only if they test negative

Thiruvananthapuram, May 17 (PTI): In a bid to prevent spread of COVID-19 in prisons in Kerala, the state government will admit remand prisoners only if they test negative for the virus, while it has already granted remission and parole to several other inmates.

The swabs of remand prisoners will be taken and tested for the deadly virus and till the results arrive, they will be either lodged at hospitals or quarantine facilities arranged by the district administration, a senior prison official said.

'In the fourth phase of lockdown,we have decided that only COVID-19-free prisoners will be admitted to all jails in the state.

If someone is arrested, his swab test will be done and ascertained whether they are positive or negative. Otherwise, the 6,250 prisoners and over 1,600 staff in all the jails will be in trouble.

This is the most important phase,' DIG of Prisons and Correctional Services, Santhosh Kumar, told PTI.

Currently 6,250 prisoners are lodged in around 54 jails across the state, he said.

Kumar said the plan was to decongest the jails and hence those eligible had been given parole and interim bail.

At least 85 prisoners who have undergone two third of their term have been given remission, he said, adding these steps were taken to reduce the number of inmates in prisons.

He said the decongestion plan was facing a major challenge as over 1,200 accused in Abkari cases have been jailed during the lockdown periond.

'As part of reducing the population in jails in view of the COVID-19 situation, we have been giving bail and parole to many.

But since liquor shops are closed due to the lockdown, there is a spike in number of Abkari cases and over 1,200 have been arrested and lodged in jails,' he said.

The prison department has been proactively participating in fighting the pandemic by producing sanitisers and masks and has been playing a major role in controlling the market price.

'We have already produced eight lakh masks and over 15,000 litres of sanitisers. We did sales of over Rs 1.25 crore during this lockdown period.

We have played a major role in controlling the market price of sanitisers and masks,' Kumar claimed.

With 11new positivecases detected in Kerala on Saturday, the total tally of those under treatment has risen to 87 in the state and over 55,000 are under observation. PTI RRT APR RAVINDRANATH APR RAVINDRANATH