Mumbai: The arrest of top Arthur Road jail officials—superintendent Vasudev Barkule and his deputy Pradip Pathrikar—for accepting a bribe to clear a candidate in an examination for jailors has blown the lid off graft behind bars.
Jail inmates are, however, trapped in a vicious circle. They claim that there is a price tag on staples in prison.
A blast accused, who is now out on bail, said corruption in prison starts at the gate. “Several prisoners are brought to Arthur Road jail daily. They are frisked by inmates and babas (as jail constables are referred) at the entry gate. Most of them bring some cash and conceal it in shirt sleeves, collars, trousers and innerwear,” said the blast accused.
Before the frisking starts, all new prisoners are instructed to deposit their belongings with the authorities. However, many inmates do not heed the directive. “The money recovered while searching prisoners is seized and most of it goes to jail staffers,” he added.
Even a “suitable” barrack comes for a price. “The wellheeled, who have never committed a crime in the past, would not like to be accommodated with hardened criminals. They pay to get a separate barrack,” said a source. Pillows and bed sheets, which an inmate is entitled to free of cost, are soiled and prisoners have to grease palms to get fresh ones.
A developer, who spent four days in Arthur Road jail last year, said, “I was surprised when a habitual offender approached me and rattled off details of the case against me. He demanded money for not creating trouble for me in the jail.” Prison coupons that inmates use instead of cash can be purchased on the black market. “Hundred coupons are valued at Rs 100. Inmates sell 70 coupons for Rs 100 and jail staffers are aware of the practice,” said a source.
COMFY IN CAPTIVITY 500-1K | Accommodating inmates in a “suitable” barrack
200-500 | Getting fresh pillows or bed sheets
100–500 | Meeting relatives for longer time
1K–5K | Relaying messages outside prison
200–1K | Housing new prisoners with “peace-loving” inmates
The Times of India, April 20, 2014