Odisha government released around 17,000 under-trial prisoners and convicts on bail and parole from prisons to decongest the jails and to keep the spread of novel corona virus infections at bay.

Apart from releasing the prisoners as per the apex court order, 1,202 jail inmates have also been evacuated to less congested prisons as part of precautionary measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, the official said.

While 150 the convicts have been released on parole, the 16,639 UTPs were given bail by courts. The total number of prisoners released from the jails from 20 March till 20 July stand at 16,789, said a senior official of jail administration.

“Abiding by the apex court order, the high powered committees and the district undertrial review committee comprising among others the district judges had been constituted and the prisoners were accordingly released by the order as part of the initiative to decongest the jails”, said said DGP (prisons and correctional services) Santosh Upadhyay.

The spurt in infections in Berhampur jail is a cause of concern. As there is likelihood of more infections, the jail covid care centre is a timely step to take care of the infected inmates. As many as 5,231 inmates from the Berhampur circle jail which has witnessed the highest number of 54 COVID cases have been released. The State has so far reported 95 infections in jails .

The Choudwar circle jail accounts for ten infections so far. The overall COVID situation in jails is very much under control. Apart from the two circle jails, the jails in Puri, Rourkela, Jajpur, Banapur, Kodala, G. Udaygiri, Padamapur and Gunupur have reported COVID positive cases.

Of the 91 jails, infections have only been sourced from 10 jails only. In each of the jails, isolation wards are in operation to lodge the new prisoners. They are being kept segregated from other inmates to check the infections.

The jails in the state are currently not overcrowded as the prison administration has decongested the prisons in view of the health emergency.