Prison Management: Not a Cakewalk

DQI Bureau
New Update

Prisons-together with the police, judiciary and security

apparatus-are an integral part of any state as they play an important role

with respect to prisoners' right. The Prison Management Systems (PMS)

developed and implemented by the National Informatics Centre is an application,

to give the Tihar Jail authorities the right tools to enhance efficiency of the

administrative mechanism.


Nonetheless, implementing PMS in Tihar Jail, India's

largest jail and Asia's second largest jail, unquestionably could not have

been a cakewalk. The Tihar Jail houses over 14,000 inmates presently.

The application has allowed jail authorities to keep details

pertaining to inmates, which includes category of the prisoner, criminal record,

year of entry, biometric details right at the time of their entry, prisoner

number, photograph, personal details (age, address, information related to

family members, etc), medical details, lodging etc.

The biometric details consist of prisoner's photograph and

fingerprint, which are used for verification of the prisoners in case of

duplicate entry.


"The PMS allowed us to adopt a systematic and uniform

approach to handling information about prisoners in Tihar," said Sunil

Kumar Gupta, law officer, Central Jail, Tihar.

The software also supports a record of movement of inmates

inside and outside the jail, including court cases details about action taken

during hearings.

"The application is good in dealing with over-populous

prisons, such as Tihar, which house more inmates than their sanctioned

capacity," said Rajiv Saxena, deputy director general, NIC. The sanctioned

capacity of Tihar is 5,648 prisoners.


PMS is a G2G and G2C e-Governance tool. "Apart from

creating transparency and simplifying information handling, the application has

helped in creating a central database to provide information about all jails in

the Tihar Prisons complex," said Saxena. Tihar is a huge complex spread

over 400 acres, with over 10 jails.

A prison official said, "With the implementation of PMS,

things have become much easier to manage. The central database gives us the tool

to manage the administrative detailing smoothly."

Prior to the introduction of PMS in 2004, Tihar used the

Prisons Inmates Information System adopted in 1994. All jails had been

computerized then. There are eight NIC computer centers in the complex, one in

each of the seven jails and one in the Prison HQ.


of PMS has made prison management much easier. The central database in

Tihar Jail helps prison officials manage administration smoothly

All these Computer Centers are connected to each other

through Fiber Optic LAN. Each center is equipped with a Pentium Pro Server and

different nodes are given to different sections. There is a computer center at

the Tihar Jail reception for public inquiry.

Recalling the problems that NIC faced while executing the

project, Saxena said, "We did face problems in laying the optical fibers,

but we somehow had to manage with what we had in hand."


"Tihar's thick concrete walls were very difficult to

drill. The problem was aggravated as there were no route maps," he said.

"Besides, due to fear of security issues, laborers were not allowed inside

the jails, so we took the help of prison inmates."

Upgradation of the prison inmates information system was

carried out to incorporate fingerprints and photographs of prisoners to enhance

security. This was aimed at fully computerizing systems of visitor's

management, hospital management, personnel management, inventory management,


PMS works with the on-line working-pattern of the prisons

(registration, movement and release). "The application has been crucial in

providing information to prison officials, about inmates under their

custody," said Rajeev Saxena. The prisoner database consists of details of

16,000 prisoners, 40,000 fingerprints, and 60,000 photographs.




The challenges faced by the

Tihar prison in its current way of handling prisoners are as follows:

  • Identification/detection/verification

    of prisoners

  • Limited recording of

    demographic details about the crime, prisoners and their movements

  • Limited information on

    the previous history of a prisoner

  • Limited classification

    of offence

  • Limited provision to

    record the movements of a prisoner (inside, outside, court hearing and

    hospital referrals) thereby resulting in poor quality records and

    their follow-up

  • Lack of exchange of

    information within central jails and the prison headquarter


Recording and

tracking of all prison movements
  • Monitoring of action taken

    by the courts on cases pertains to prisoners

  • Comprehensive culling of

    information about prisoners, court cases, and crime

  • Recording of the court's

    direction at the time of its admission and release

  • Expected

    All district and

    central jails in India and abroad
  • The National Human Rights


  • The National Crimes Record


  • Conceiving PMS

    The seeds of the project were sown when the technical consultant to Tihar,

    NIC, conducted a full systems study of the various processes, nodes and flow of

    information within the jail. NIC had been supporting all computer operations of

    the Tihar Prisons Complex.

    The end result was the design and development of the Prison

    Management Solution for Tihar, harnessing the full power of Information

    Technology along with a detailed network diagram for implementation of the LAN

    in the prison complex.


    Ensuring Scalability

    The application can be adopted in local jails as per their requirements.

    Saxena said the application is supported by open database connectivity, which

    ensures access to any data from any application, regardless of which database

    management system (DBMS) is handling the data. Database connectivity makes it

    possible to connect it to the database as per requirements. All master codes,

    pertaining to 15 master tables, can be modified as per requirement.

    "PMS can easily be customized according to the local

    requirements of the jails. It has been installed in 16 central jails located at

    various places of India, after making required changes at database level,"

    he said.

    Managing Visitors

    Besides this, the Visitors Management System (VMS) is another application

    that was introduced in 2005.

    The visitor database consists of details of 50,000 visitors

    along with their photographs. On an average, 3,000 visitors come to Tihar daily.

    "VMS has reduced the count of criminals visiting the jail," said a

    senior official. "Besides, it has benefited visitors who earlier had to

    wait for hours to get clearance."

    The prison has further made way for using advance technology

    like use of video conferencing from jails to prisons, CCTV, DFMDs and HHMDs.

    According to Saxena, the prime intention is to integrate all the Central Jails

    of India with the police departments for sharing information about prisoners at

    the national level, so that police officials can retrieve information of

    prisoners and their visitors.

    Urvashi Kaul