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Move to Shift Prisons Outside Cities
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Move to Shift Prisons Outside Cities

In the upcoming five-year economic development plan (2016-2021), 20 prisons will be shifted to locations outside city jurisdictional limits.
The central prisons like Evin (Tehran) and Ghezel Hesar and Rajaee Shahr in Karaj in Alborz Province, are located within the city limits. In addition to security problems, prisons have an adverse impact on the psychological well-being of people living in the vicinity and are often viewed as an eyesore by residents.
Last week, Asqar Jahangir, head of Iran’s Prisons Organization announced that the idea of out-of-city prisons will be implemented in the new five-year plan, the Persian- language newspaper ‘Etemad’ reported.
Jahangir also pointed to alternative penalization to reduce the number of people locked up in jails such as ankle bracelets, or other electronic monitoring devices designed to keep check on offenders.
Referring to the electronic monitoring pilot plan implemented earlier, he said the monitoring devices as a rule should help keep tabs on inmates everywhere, but the devices used in the pilot plan were unable to track offenders in all places. There was another problem; they weren’t waterproof!
“Therefore, the pilot plan which aimed to solve the problem of overcrowded prisons was unsuccessful,” he said, adding that $27 million was spent on buying devices to implement the project that failed.
“However, after completion of the pilot plan, the devices were rented for other uses, so we could recover part of the money spent.” It was not clear for what other use the gadgets are being used.

 Overcrowding
Currently, there are 220,000 inmates in Iran’s prisons which are overcrowded as they have a capacity to house only 83,000. It is unclear whether the establishment of out-of-city penitentiaries is a solution to provide standard space per inmate.
“Inadequate equipment, space and jail staff has led to lack of systematic classification of prisoners as well as correctional facilities to prepare prisoners for their future life,” Ali Najafi Tavana, head of the Iranian Bar Association said.
However, the issues can be addressed within the existing regulations, he noted.
According to Jahangir, the requirements for proper execution of the home detention plan are still lacking.
“Home detention and electronic arrest can reduce the burden on detainees and their families as well as financial burden on the organization, but its execution demands efficient mechanisms,” he said.
Along with its implementation, other measures like employment, marriage facilitation, health improvement, and addiction treatment are necessary. Without such measures, home detention will only encourage offenders to return to crime.

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