The Department of Prison Management recently admitted that prisons throughout the country are overloaded 25 percent over their capacity. One reason prisons have been overcrowded, is that more than 2,000 arrests were made following the declaration of the state of emergency on two months ago.
There are 69 functioning prisons in the country?the district prisons in Syangja, Dang, Dolpa and Solukhumbu were destroyed by the Maoists. There are 6,200 persons locked up in facilities meant for only about 4,000. Prisons need restorations and reforms urgently, says Umesh Prasad Mainali, director general of the Department.
The government has formed nine jail reform committees in the past, but none of their recommendations have been implemented due to the cash crunch. The Home Ministry requested Rs 8.8 million to restore the four prisons destroyed by the Maoists, but the Finance Ministry could not come up with it. Mainali says that the Home Ministry is planning to request a Rs 32.5 million budget for reforms and repairs in the 69 functioning prisons.
All the prisons in Nepal were built during the Rana regime and because repairs are not a priority and the security systems are weak, it is easy for captives to escape. A Home Ministry source told us that jail management reforms long overdue were not executed because the government never allocated a budget for it. He also said that the Ministry will persuade the government to list jail reform under the development budget in the coming fiscal year.