After a prisoner tested positive for coronavirus at Camp Jail Lahore, authorities in Sindh are concerned about the coronavirus outbreak in the provincial jails. As many as 16,024 prisoners are currently confined in 24 jails of the province against the authorised capacity of 13,538, which shows that the facilities are already overcrowded. “Central Jail Karachi has the highest number of prisoners, holding 3,619 inmates,” said SSP Hassan Sehto. The Central Jail has a capacity of 2,400, while 319 prisoners have been shifted to interior Sindh Jail. “As many as 69 under-trial prisoners from the Malir and 20 from Central Jail Karachi, involved in cases of lesser punishment, have been released,” an official said. A convict who was earlier released shared that there is no proper system of checking coronavirus in jail, and added that many prisoners are suffering from allergy due to unhygienic foods and improper system of cleaning. “The situation cannot be explained in words,” he said. A day before, the Sindh chief minister had asked the Home Department to compile a list and separate list of women, children and foreigners in jails according to the severity of their respective crimes and their health so that they may be provided some relief. As per the provided list, the Sindh government is going to give relief to 1,500 prisoners, out of the total prisoners in Sindh, which include 550 facing death sentences, 10,758 are under trial and nearly 500 are foreigners. Meanwhile, 148 prisoners are in the juvenile prison, among them 12 are convicted while the remaining 136 are under trial. Earlier, the chief justice had ordered the release of 829 under-trial prisoners involved in cases of lesser punishment to prevent the further spread of coronavirus. The plea was filed by Zindagi Trust’s Shehzad Roy his lawyer told that even the Sindh chief minister had taken notice of the dire situation in the prisons, while the SHC chief justice had already ordered the release of 829 prisoners involved in minor offences although there are 10758 prisoners under trial in Sindh now. He said that the number of prisoners in Sindh’s jails was so high that if the contagious virus reached them, the consequences would be disastrous. On the other hand, fearful of contracting coronavirus, 65-year-old Barkat Ali, who is incarcerated at Central Jail Karachi, approached the Sindh High Court (SHC) for bail too. As per his lawyer, the only way to stay safe from the contagious virus was to take precautions and keep a distance from others, but this was not possible in the overcrowded prison. While talking to Daily Times, AIG Admin Prisons Syed Munwar Ali said that over 400 inmates have already been shifted to other parts of Sindh, where the number of prisons is less, in order to reduce the population in the overcrowded jail. Moreover, he said that we have a team of doctors who check the arriving prisoners and receive them after proper tests with certificate. He said the new prisoners are kept separate for a few days inside the jail. District Jail Superintendent Shaheed Benazirabad Ashfaq Kalwar told Daily Times that he keeps reviewing on daily basis the safety measures in the jail, adding that instructions are being strictly implemented and sessions being conducted for counseling and awareness of inmates regarding prevention form coronavirus and guiding prisoners to wear facemask, keeping distance and following the instructions. The Sindh Human Rights Commission has already demanded the authorities to introduce coronavirus testing services inside jail premises and formation of an isolation ward and quarantine facility inside the jail premises along with the provision of medical and paramedical staff. The commission has also demanded the authorities to closely monitor the elderly and weak inmates with pre-existing medical conditions and shift them to a separate barrack. Health expert say that the Sindh government must ban prisoners’ meetings with their families in all jails as a preventive measure in the wake of infectious illness caused by coronavirus across the world. Pakistan’s 40 functional jails are badly overcrowded, housing almost 90,000 prisoners in cramped, crowded and often extremely unhygienic conditions.