Tamil Nadu releases nearly 50 per cent of inmates to decongest prisons

Around 6,000 inmates of Tamil Nadu jails were granted bail recently to prevent coronavirus spread, bringing down the present strength to half of the capacity, authorities said on Sunday.

There has never been overcrowding in jails in Tamil Nadu and over 6,000 inmates were granted bail recently to prevent coronavirus spread, bringing down the present strength to a little over half of the capacity, authorities said on Sunday.

The Supreme Court in March directed all states and Union Territories to constitute high-level committees to consider releasing on parole or interim bail prisoners and undertrials for offences entailing up to seven-year jail term, to decongest prisons in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result, the present strength of prisoners in 135 plus jails, including nine central and five special prisons for women, in the state is approximately 13,500 as against the authorised capacity of about 23,000, prison sources were quoted as saying by PTI.

The release of prisoners as a precautionary measure from the last week of March followed a direction by the Supreme Court, and more jail inmates are expected to come out in the next few days. The bail and parole are for a initial 45-60 day period which is extendable.

The apex court had asked all the states and union territories to constitute high-level committees to consider releasing on parole or interim bail prisoners and undertrials for offences entailing up to a seven-year jail term, to decongest prisons in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.