COVID-19: Assam releases over 3,550 inmates to decongest jails

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Guwahati, May 17 () Over 3,550 inmates, including300 lodged in detention camps, have been released from jailsacross Assam since March to decongest the prisons in the wakeof novel Coronavirus pandemic, a senior official said onSunday.

Of them, around 1,700 prisoners were releasedfollowing a Supreme Court ruling in the wake of the outbreakof COVID-19, while others got out of jails as per normal legalprocedure, Assam Inspector General of Prisons Dasarath Dassaid.

He said the state's 31 jails currently house 8,510inmates against the sanctioned capacity of 8,938.

"We have released a total of 3,577 inmates so far fromdifferent jails across the state since the coronavirus crisisemerged in March. This includes 3,161 undertrials, who werereleased on bail and personal bonds," he told .
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Das said 101 convicts have been allowed to go home onannual leave, while 15 more were released on parole.

Eligible convicts get 30 days of annual leaves foremergency purposes as per rules.

"We have also released 300 people from detention campsafter the Supreme Court order. At present, there are 479inmates in six detention camps," the IG said.
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"With only 8,510 inmates, we are at a comfortablelevel now and implementing social distancing norms insidejails. Though we have released a huge number of prisoners, newinmates are coming in regularly. That is why the total numberis not going down drastically," he said.

Citing an example, Das said 76 prisoners were releasedon May 15, but 60 new inmates came in on the same day,resulting in only 16 effective releases from jails.The state has six central jails, 22 district jails,one open-air jail, one special jail and one sub-jail. Besides,there are six detention camps to lodge suspected and declaredforeigners.
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On March 23, the Supreme Court had directed all statesand Union Territories to constitute high-level committees toconsider releasing on parole or interim bail prisoners andundertrials for offences entailing up to 7-year jail term todecongest prisons in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In another order on April 13, the apex court hadreduced the required time to be served in a detention camp totwo years from the earlier three and the surety amount to Rs5,000 from the previous Rs one lakh. TRNN NN
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