The prisons department set up third-party call centres to sniff out the corrupt. Under this project, an ex-prisoner receives a call from a person claiming to be from an NGO, HRC or the press asking him about his jail time and experiences, assuring the inmate that his identity would be kept anonymous.
If the ex-prisoner says he was asked for a bribe, action is taken within the next 48 hours. The prisoner’s statement is cross-checked and investigated on the first day, and action taken the next day if the charges are proved. The ex-inmate receives a cash prize of Rs 10,000 if he is proved right. To obtain real-time feedback from released inmates, the department started the third-party call centre.
“We contacted 1,290 released prisoners in 2017 and 596 till April this year. Of them, only 40 had complaints whereas the rest of them spoke well of the department,” Prisons DG V.K. Singh said, adding that most of them complained of food, bad behaviour and delay in being released on bail.
If a case of bribe or corruption was recorded, immediate action is taken. Recalling an incident, Singh said, “There was an instance where two men offered to pay a certain amount to the officials here as a token of respect and gratitude, which was however politely declined, to their surprise. They said that at times where most people demand things to get their work done, it was refreshing to know that we have such diligent officials.”
Earlier, Telangana Prisons Director General, V.K. Singh, said, “while Telangana has been rated as the second most corrupt state in a recent survey, people should know that we have a corruption-free and most technologically advanced prison,” Singh said.
A focussed move to check corruption in the department was not something implemented elsewhere in the country.
Speaking to #KhabarLive, Singh said, “We are the only department in the country to be declared corruption-free. The death rate of prisoners has reduced and we have also taken up a series of measures for educating the prisoners. Ours is the only department which is discharging social responsibility and service beyond our call of duty.”
He said corruption could be ended if the work environment was good. “Lack of job satisfaction is a primary reason why people resort to corruption. In the jails here, we have installed top class equipments and have also provided them with gears and amenities for easy processing. This is the only jail with facilities like an air conditioned meeting room. Earlier it was just a ground without even proper benches,” he said.
The jail also got rid of the old iron mesh which was used as a wall between the inmate and the visitor during mulaqat. “We replaced those things with an unbreakable glass for the convenience of the visitors. The mesh made it difficult for the people to see each other and we replaced it with glass and intercoms for a smooth and simple procedure. Apart from this, we have also got CCTV cameras all over the premises to monitor the activities and to maintain constant vigil,” said Singh.
According to him, the biggest achievement of the department in the last three years was to eradicate corruption from all jails in the state.
Singh has initiated several programmes like providing education and jobs to prisoners, nurturing their mental health, setting up rules like ‘no fuel-no helmet’ at prison-run fuel bunks, taking in the destitute and beggars to educate, train and provide them with a better life.
He said the prisons department was in the forefront to rehabilitate beggars, mentally challenged, the destitute and added that no prisons department in the world had taken up such an initiative.
Singh said instructions have been issued to officials to meet the public without appointment at office hours in order to consolidate the department’s position. The department’s headquarters has been shifted to a new campus near Nalgonda Crossroads. #KhabarLive