Govt to appoint psychologists in all jails


To provide best medical facilities to the prisoners suffering from mental disorder, the government on recommendations of Punjab Public Service Commission

The government plans to appoint psychologists in every central and district prison of the province to provide medical facilities for prisoners suffering from mental disorders.

The proposal is part of a draft prepared by a working group of the provincial government formed by Law Minister Raja Basharat to improve the Prison Rules. The working group was headed by PTI MPA Aisha Nawaz Chaudhry who along with stakeholders reviewed the rules and proposed amendments. Meetings held in this regard were attended by representatives of the civil society, prison officials and advocate general’s office.

In view of the condition of the prisoners suffering from mental disorders, a section about prison psychologists was added in the chapter about mental patients in the recently prepared draft “Punjab Prison Rules 2020”.

The draft proposed appointment of psychologists (BS-17) and junior psychologists (BS-16) by the government and ensuring that the psychologist shall supervise the mental health unit of each prison and be responsible to address the psychological needs of all prisoners undergoing prison-based rehabilitation during their incarceration.

All new prisoners will be screened with the help of a mental state examination. An initial assessment of a prisoner’s pre-existing mental condition shall be made by the psychologist in conjunction with the prison health team.

The psychologist shall aim to develop the self-image, self-confidence and motivation of prisoners. Therapy will be commenced of juvenile offenders with a focus on behavioural and cognitive brain therapy and the teaching of interpersonal skills.

Fortnightly group therapy or support groups shall be arranged for prisoners who may benefit from shared experiences like females, juveniles or substance abusers or those suffering from an addiction.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2020.