Most people would do anything to get out of jail. But that’s not the case with 21 inmates in nine prisons of Uttar Pradesh who have written to authorities saying they don’t want parole as staying incarcerated is “safer and healthier” for them during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Parole is a temporary suspension of prison sentence.
The inmates who have made such a request are lodged in nine jails of the state, including in Ghaziabad, Gautam Buddh Nagar, Meerut, Maharajganj, Gorakhpur and Lucknow, Director General of Jail Administration Anand Kumar told PTI on Sunday.
The reason is that if they get a 90-day parole, then this will get added to the punishment term, he said.
“The other overriding reason which they give is that if they go out, they will not get food and other healthcare facilities, which they get in the jails.
“The inmates say health checkup is done regularly in the jails. They get food on time, they are safe and healthy in jails. The inmates say that once they go out of the jail, they will have to struggle to earn a living,” Mr Kumar said.
There are four such requests from Lucknow jail, three from Ghaziabad and two from Maharajganj jail.
Asked what is the jail administration’s response to the request of the inmates, Mr Kumar said, “Since they have given it in writing, obviously we have to accept their stand and honour it.”
Mr Kumar also said over 2,200 inmates have been released on interim parole, and more than 9,200 prisoners have been given interim bail.
In all, around 11,500 inmates have been released following recommendations of a high-powered committee on the orders of the Supreme Court, he said.
Taking note of an “unprecedented surge” in COVID-19 cases in the country, the Supreme Court on May 8 passed directions for decongestion of prisons and ordered forthwith release of all those prisoners who were granted bail or parole last year in view of the pandemic.
In March last year, the Uttar Pradesh government had decided to free 11,000 prisoners from 71 jails pursuant to a Supreme Court directive to decongest jails across the country in the wake of the COVID-19 contagion.
On March 16, 2020, the top court had taken suo motu cognisance of overcrowding of prisons across the country and had said it is difficult for jail inmates to maintain social distance to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The Supreme Court had directed all states and union territories to constitute high-level committees to consider giving parole or interim bail to prisoners and undertrials for offences entailing up to seven-year jail term.