LAHORE - The Prisons department is going to install Public Call Offices (PCOs) in the jails across the province in order to provide telephone facility to the prisoners for making calls to their relatives. In the first phase, PCOs have been installed in ten jails of Punjab, a spokesperson of Punjab Prisons Foundation said in statement issued here on Saturday.

He told that modern equipments have been installed in PCOs, adding that after entering complete bio-data of all prisoners, a security code will be given to them, through which they will be provided facility of making calls. He further told that the inmates would be provided the facility of telephone for 20 minutes in a week during which they would make calls on five specified numbers. “All their talks will be recorded,” he added. After its success, similar PCOs will be set up in remaining 27 jails of the province, the spokesperson said. “Earlier, prisoners were using cell phones inside the jails with the connivance of jail officials after paying heavy bribe, although jail authorities sometimes recovered huge number of cell phones from prisoners,” the spokesperson revealed.

Ultimately recognising the basic need to communicate with the outer world and to check the illegal means, the Punjab prisons department has finally decided to provide controlled phone facility to the inmates, beginning with three jails through a pilot project, he maintained.

A senior Prisons official, requesting anonymity, said that the need to install phones inside prisons was strongly felt after authorities seized huge number of cell phones from different jails in the province in the past. A good number of prisoners were punished like shifting to hard jails and other punishments so they always used other unfair means, he added.

Another senior officer said that with the installation of PCOs, illegal activities like use of cell phone inside jails would be discouraged.