Manual administrative work is not only a wasteful
trail of paper but is also intensely time and labour consuming not to
mention the difficulties associated with updating the information,
particularly if on a daily basis. The all-embracing use of Information
Technology has helped solve this problem efficiently and no business,
trade or human activity can afford to function without it today.
The induction of new technologies has helped lessen
the ever-increasing load of information that has to be kept in all
fields of human interaction; business, commercial, administrative or
personnel. In a world where information, irrespective of quality, is
just a mouse click away maintaining information, and updating it if and
when necessary, has become a necessity and no more a choice.
Keeping tabs, thus, has never been easier. That
explains the wild acceptance of Information Technology in every aspects
of human life, like elsewhere here in Pakistan as well. However, much
remains to be done to make use of these latest technologies in police,
prison and judiciary management here in Pakistan to ensure swift
dispensation of justice, humane treatment of under-trial and convicted
prisoners and scientific investigation of crimes to make our society
However, a beginning of sorts has been made in the
province of Sindh — it has become the first to completely computerized
all its jails. There are about 90 jails in Pakistan of which only 18 are
fully computerized — all of whom are located in Sindh. Punjab houses
the biggest inmate population in the country — around 52,000 while the
number of inmates in 18 jails across Sindh totals around 20,000. One can
well understand the immense administrative load this puts on the prison
Not only prison management is an intensely
administration-related work but what makes it even more heavy is that it
requires a close cooperation between the various departments of the
government — judiciary, penal system, police and the legislative
itself. For instance, the prison management system not only deals with
profiles of inmates but also information about their court production,
housing, case management, visitor monitoring. Its other aspects are
internal such as accounts, payroll, attendance and overall general
administration of the inmate population.
Judicial process requires the participation of a
number of agencies and departments. From the time of the filing of a FIR
and subsequent arrest of the suspect and the booking of case, a number
of agencies — police, FIA, prosecution & defence counsels, courts,
hospitals, at times many other government departments like interior
ministry and local administrations, have a role to play in a criminal
case. This interaction and cooperation between these various agencies
and departments is necessary not only to do justice to the accused but
is also necessary to maintain complete records of the convicted persons.
It is also necessary to speed up the judicial process to deliver justice
Maintaining information manually, thus, is an
extremely impossible task, particularly when it comes from so many
departments and agencies. Compiling all of these up manually is almost
next to impossible task. The problem arising from such immense
information load can only be solved by induction of latest technology in
the penal system and the province of Sindh has taken the lead.
The computerized prison management allows the
authorities not only to maintain complete profile of inmates alongwith
their machine readable fingerprints but the centrally controlled, and
connected, server-based software backed by latest hardware also allows
the IG Prisons Sindh to get latest updates three times a day from all 18
jails in Sindh. In addition, the system also provides other vital
information as booking of inmates, their housing, their scheduled
movements including appearances in court, case management, visitor
monitoring, and remissions to help made the administrative work much
These are the human aspects of computerization the
prison management system. However, like elsewhere it should also result
in cutting the costs. Just how much monies should the computerization be
saving the exchequer could be understood from one simple example.
Some 1,400-1,500 under-trial prisoners locked in
Karachi Central jail alone have to be produced in various courts on any
given working day. However, just about 900 of them are produced before
the courts due to various reasons including shortage of police
personnel, shortage of conveyance and confusion about production orders.
The Central Jail Karachi is, thus, has to provide 900 less lunches on
any given working day as these under-trial prisoners are fed, with rare
exceptions, by their families at the court premises. The same is also
true for the policemen guarding them who are also fed by the families of
the under-trial prisoners.
If, for instance, the minimum cost of lunch per
prisoner at Karachi Central Jail is assumed to be just Rs 10, it means a
saving of at least Rs 10,000 a day in ration. Since there are around 256
court days in a year, the Karachi Central Jail alone should be saving
over Rs 2.5 million a year alone in food bill. The saving would be much
bigger when applied to the remaining jails in the province which house
thousands of more under-trial inmates.
Is computerisation of the prison management system in
Sindh paying the social and financial dividends? Well, it should.