Bhubaneswar: Prisons’ statistics for 2019 released by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) revealed that vacancy of prison staff under various categories in the jails across the state increased during the year. The NCRB data also indicated a drop in budgetary allocation for the Prisons department in 2019.
As per the report, 2,378 prison staff, including executive, correctional and medical, was available against the sanctioned strength of 2,986 staff. Vacancy in these posts increased from 538 in 2018 to 608 in 2019. The number of jail officials in the previous year was 2,011, which decreased to 1,962 in 2019. A total of 255 staff in officers’ cadre was deployed in various jails of the state in 2019 as against the sanctioned strength of 464.
Similarly, the number of correctional staff also declined to 108 in 2019 as against 120 in 2018. The report revealed that almost half of the posts of welfare officers in the prisons across the state have been lying vacant in 2019. There were 31 welfare officers available against the sanctioned strength of 60. At the same time, the government has failed to fill up the three sanctioned posts of psychiatrists (psychologists) in the state prisons despite the high number of mental illness cases reported among the prison inmates. As per the report, the sanctioned strength was also reduced in 2019. The state prisons also recorded employment of 76 social workers against the sanctioned strength of 101 in 2019.
However, the state government increased the number of medical staff in the state prisons following the regular exposure by the media regarding the crippled medical facilities in the state prisons. The strength of doctors in the various prisons of the state has been increased from 42 in 2018 to 61 in 2019. Still there is an acute shortage of doctors as the sanctioned strength is 94. Worse still the only women’s prison in Sambalpur has no healthcare staff.
This apart, the report revealed that the Odisha Prisons Directorate has received fewer amounts under budgetary allocations during the financial year 2019-20 compared to the 2018-19 fiscal. The total sanctioned budget for the state in 2018 was Rs 202.4 crore, which declined to Rs 199.7 crore in 2019, registering a decrease of 1.3 per cent from the previous year. Meanwhile, the Prisons department managed to spend Rs 170.5 crore out of the sanctioned Rs 199.7 crore.