Andhra Pradesh: Drug addicts number rises but no remedy

Visakhapatnam: The number of people convicted on drugs charges, and who are addicts themselves, lodged in central prisons in Andhra Pradesh has been rising but nothing has been done so far to set up de-addiction centres in jails. There are four central prisons in AP and at least three to five per cent of the inmates of these prisons are drug addicts and were arrested on charges of peddling drugs and having drugs in their possession. Prison authorities are struggling to shift these inmates to private de-addiction centres.

None of the four central jails in the state — at Vizag, Rajahmundry, Kadapa and Nellore — have a de-addiction centre. Superintendent of Vizag Central Prison, S. Rahul, says that they depend on private de-addiction centres only. Andhra Pradesh has 112 jails — 99 sub-jails, seven district jails, four central jails, one women’s jail and one special jail, with over 2,900 convicts and over a whopping 4,900 under-trials. 

G.N. Srinivasa Rao, Professor E.A. Narayana, L.V. Ramani and other non-official members of the prison advisory board have suggested setting up of a de-addiction centre and an organisation for counselling mentally ill inmates. The de-addiction centre will serve as a referral treatment centre for alcoholics, they added.

Jail authorities say that non-government representatives on the Board of Visitors to jails have recommended reforms and rehabilitation of prisoners. They will visit jails in their districts once every month, inspect the condition of the prisons and inmates and interact with the prisoners. Sources in police and jails say that the number of first time offenders in jails has been increasing and most of them are involved in drug peddling and property offences. Engaging counsellors and motivators to give them a pep-talk is one of the reforms suggested.

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