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Coronavirus in India: Maharashtra govt plans to release 5,000 prisoners to decrease congestion in jails

BusinessToday.In     March 20, 2020

The Maharashtra State government has proposed release of thousands of inmates from the State's overcrowded jails as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases have drastically risen in the last three weeks.

The State Home Department has produced an affidavit before the Supreme Court. The affidavit is a proposal to release over 5,000 inmates on temporary bail or for medical reasons. This has been suggested to reduce congestion in jails, according to The Hindu.

The affidavit says that those convicts facing a prison term of three to five years for petty crimes should be released on bail and that medical furlough should be given to low-risk, first-time, non-violent and bailable offenders. The response of the government was also filed as part of the affidavit given to the apex court.

According to reports, officials predicted that the number of prisoners released will bring down the congestion by 15 percent, Currently, there are 36,000 prisoners in jails of the state. Jails in Maharashtra are overcrowded as 60 jails in the state have a population of inmates nearly 50 percent higher than the actual capacity. According to senior officials, the temporary release of the inmates will bring down the prison population to 24,000 which is nearer to the actual capacity of the jails.

"We expect the congestion to come down between 15% and 20% if such a move is implemented. The SC can facilitate this by way of a decree or order and the States can follow suit depending on the congestion in prisons. We are prepared," said a senior official to

 the daily.

The apex court last week had asked chief secretaries of all states to respond by March 20 with measures that need to be taken to curb overcrowding in jails amidst the COVDI-19 outbreak. The SC is expected to hear on the matter on March 23.

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