They cite safety, livelihood issues as reasons
At least eight convicts lodged in Mysuru Central jail have refused to go home on the 90-day parole offered to eligible jail inmates with a view to decongesting prisons in the wake of the second surge in COVID-19 infections.
While more than 75 jail inmates, including convicts, undertrials and convicts approved for pre-mature release, had walked out of Mysuru jail premises during the last few days, at least 8 convicts had turned down the offer, citing “safety from COVID-19” and “livelihood issues” they are likely to face out of prison.
Two more eligible convicts are undergoing treatment for COVID-19 and the jail authorities are yet to hear from them whether they will take parole or not. The jail authorities began releasing convicts and undertrials on COVID-19 parole in the second week of May this year to decongest the prison, which is housing an estimated 750 inmates, as per the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court last year.
Mysuru Jail Superintendent Divyashree told The Hindu that a total of 63 inmates of Mysuru jail had been released on parole during the first wave of COVID-19 last year and all of them had returned on expiry of the parole period. “But this year, eight of them have refused to return home. They claim that they feel safe from COVID-19 in the jail”, she said.
Some of the inmates had refused parole in view of the livelihood challenges that people are facing from the lockdown. Families of the convicts, who hail from different places in Mandya, Hassan and Madikeri, besides Mysuru, are not financially sound to take care of their needs. And, finding work themselves for a living is also difficult during the lockdown.
The inmates have to remit ₹1,000 as surety, but the amount will be returned to them on their return to the jail after conclusion of the parole period.
Though a few inmates of the jail had tested positive in the last few days and had been treated at the COVID-19 Hospital in Metagalli in the city before their discharge, almost all the 700 inmates of Mysuru jail, who are above 45 years, had been given the first dose of vaccine. Many inmates in the 18 to 44 years age bracket too had been given the first dose while all the staff members of the jail had finished both their doses.
Ms. Divyashree said the jail authorities had also released in the last few days a total of 22 convicts, who were eligible for premature release, on the basis of their good conduct. Every year, the prison authorities release convicts on January 26 and August 15 even before their terms conclude on the basis of good conduct. “This year the process had been delayed. The Governor’s approval for the list of convicts eligible for early release had come and 22 convicts were released”, she said.
Seven out of the 22 convicts released prematurely also figured in the list of 53 convicts who had been released on COVID-19 parole, she added.
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