Prison management is an intensely administration-related work

June 23 - 29, 2003



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 more safe.

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 management system.

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 swiftly.



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 easier.

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.