General prisoners will now be given the opportunity to speak with their families over the phone. This facility will not extend to top terrorists and militants, said Inspector General (Prisons) Brig Gen Syed Iftekhar Uddin.
He made the statement at a press conference for Prison Week 2017 held at the Directorate of Prison in Bakshibazar, Dhaka on Thursday.
Prison Week 2017 is set to begin on February 26 and will be formally inaugurated by Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan.
With the slogan “Correction of prisoners, rehabilitation into society,” the objective of the week is to increase the quality of service, change the negative perception of the prisons, change the attitudes of the jail police, bridge the gaps between jail police, general prisoners and the prisoners' families, and play a greater role in controlling militancy.
According to Iftekhar, prison intelligence officers will monitor all calls made by prisoners. The calls will also be recorded.
“When a general prisoner is processed for jail we collect their personal information for our database and each prisoner is required to log two registered phone numbers belonging to their spouses, parents or children,” he added.
Iftekhar also said Bangladesh jails had yet to launch any rehabilitation programme for terrorists and militants. Prisoners accused of militant crimes are being held separate from ordinary prisoners.
“We need specific experts to handle the deradicalisation or rehabilitation of militants and terrorists, but there is a shortage of such experts in the country. Regardless, we are discussing the matter and are trying to resolve it,” explained the IG (Prisons).
Ifekhar added that, in line with the prime minister's request, they have sent a proposal to the government requesting that the general prisoners who work at the jail get wages.
“Currently, 5,000 prisoners are employed and the goods they make are being sold at a 37% profit. This money goes directly to the government. We proposed that 10% should be given to general prisoners as wages,” he said.
In response to questions, he added that video trial processes will begin soon, starting with Dhaka Central Jail in Keraniganj and Kahsimpur High Security Central Jail.
He also said there are 492 prisoners who have been on trial for over five years and eight to 10 prisoners who have been on trial for over 10 years.