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    Sind Prison system goes HiTech

    Interesting article.
    www.dawn.com
    KARACHI, Aug 16: The Prison Management Information System (PMIS), an indigenous software, containing a database and networking of all information about the inmates of 18 penitentiaries in the province was launched on Thursday at the Central Prison, Karachi.

    With the launching of the PMIS, developed jointly by Information Technology Engineering Company (ITEC) and Amjad Ahsan Infotech Ltd, the first phase of computerization of prisons in Sindh has been completed.

    The Inspector-General of Prisons, Sindh, Brig Nisar Mahar, speaking at the launching ceremony, said the introduction of an integrated IT systems would open up several avenues for researchers and policy makers associated with the criminal justice system. "It will also enable the national and supranational authorities to have on- line access to all databases, including the fingerprints of the jail inmates," he added.

    The provincial jail chief also launched a compact disc containing the entire prison rules and the Acts. The digital formatting of the jail manual was done by Arif I. Osmani of the Oclits Systems.

    The IG Prison said more than 100 complementary CDs of the jail manual would be sent to major libraries, judicial circles, NGOs, mediapersons, bar councils and the prison chiefs of the other provinces. "We also plan to put the disc on the market to enhance the knowledge of the public about the rights and privileges of prisoners."

    He said the digital formatting of the Pakistan Prison Rules and the Maintenance of Public Order would provide easy access and quick reference to the rules and ordinance for the officers and staff of the jails and related government departments, the judicial and legal fraternity, NGOs, and the public in general.

    "Also, the planned establishment of computer centres in the jails is expected to create awareness among the inmates of their rights and privileges," he added. He said Rs2.5 million had been spent on the project of storing information about jail inmates with an easy access and retrieval.

    The brigadier said the project was aimed at providing information about more than 19,000 inmates of the prisons in the province, which would also make available all the data on a website of the prisons, to be established in the second phase of computerization.

    Under the computerization plan, every jail in the province would have a computer, printer, fingerprinting and digital photographing equipment. As for the database of the prisoners, the IG Prisons said the project would be fully implemented by the year-end.

    "Training of jail staff has begun and they would start feeding the data soon," he said. Brig Nisar said two staffers each from the six central jails and one each from the district reformatories had been selected for training.

    The database would also include the details of case/cases and the dates of hearing against a prisoner in addition to his personal data. The personal data of the jail inmate would have his name, age, caste, tribe, nationality, religion, sect, address, mark of identification, fingerprint, marital status, number of children, number of siblings, occupation etc.

    The IG Prison said the database would help researchers and law enforcers identify the areas where crime rate was high. He said the project was part of the government's commitment to enhancing scientific and technological capabilities for expeditious disposal of cases.

    He said all the 18 jails would be inter-linked online, and the networking of five different departments at the inspectorate of prisons in Hyderabad would be done under the programme. The IG also said he had proposed the setting up of district-level committees to monitor the state of affairs in prisons. The jails would be open to these committees, which would comprise responsible citizens from a cross-section of society.

    Syed Khursheed Akbar Shah of ITEC, who is also a member of the Sindh IT Board, said the government believed that the new measures to develop a more holistic criminal justice system were indispensable.

    "Since fingerprint is viewed as the most reliable method of establishing identification, an on-line Automated Fingerprint Identification System based software was developed for all the functions of the prison in modular form with well-defined roles."

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