Roopnagar (Punjab): In an attempt to make Punjab jails free from illegal drugs, chief minister Bhagwant Mann on Sunday launched the first-ever ‘Drug Screening Drive’ for diagnosing drug abuse in the prison inmates.
The step has been taken to provide an option to the inmates to undergo de-addiction and get rehabilitated. Under the pilot project, the Roopnagar District Jail has successfully conducted screening of all the 950 jail inmates. The screening programme which was conducted in the presence of Special DGP Prisons Harpreet Singh Sidhu, IG Prisons Roop Kumar and DIG Prisons Surinder Singh, and Superintendent Jail Kulwant Singh was attended by the officers from other prisons of the state.
An official statement said that the final results of the first screening would be available in a day, after which further action could be initiated.
“It was for the first time such an extensive drive had been taken up to cover the entire inmate population of a prison for drug screening on a single day,” Jails Minister Harjot Singh Bains said while adding that the process would be undertaken across all prisons in the State.
He further said that this is another effort by the Punjab Government to bring reforms to the Punjab Prisons. “This project will help in identifying those inmates with substance use disorders and are not yet undergoing treatment at Out Patient Opioid Assisted Treatment (OOAT) Clinics/Deaddiction facilities established within the prison system,” he said.
“With a view to making these persons undergo de-addiction treatment, FIRs will also be lodged under Section 27 of the NDPS Act in case any such person found consuming illegal narcotics,” said the Minister, while adding that the Jails Department will further request the investigation and prosecution authorities to enforce section 64A of the NDPS Act.
He said that this will provide such inmates with an opportunity to get themselves treated and avail immunity from prosecution through the court.
The Minister also said that the Jails department further aimed at involving experts in improving de-addiction treatment, Peer Support, and Counselling facilities for inmates in jails. The Police will be requested to conduct a thorough investigation into all cases registered under this drive to plug any loopholes in the prison system regarding illegal drug supply, he added.
While appreciating the Jails Department, he further assured all the support to them (jail authorities) in making prisons drugs free and cracking down on any corrupt practices.