Within the confines of a prison, these four inmates at the Bhondsi Jail, Chandigarh, have developed an app called Phoenix. This prison management software manages transactions at prison canteens, meetings of inmates with visitors, and case history of prisoners, which were otherwise manually managed. This feat also led them into the Limca Book of Records.
The inmates are trail prisoners Rohit Pagare from New Delhi, and Anoop Singh, Balwant Singh, and Ajit Singh from Rewari. The app has been installed in 11 prisons in Harayana. According to a Hindustan Times report, the jail officials said,
It was the first time in the history of the jail department that prisoners were sent to other jails in the state for “work purposes.”
The software was initiated by another inmate, Amit Mishra, a software engineer, who was later acquitted. It was during his one-year trial at the Bhondsi Jail that the team of five was formed. After Amit's release, the other four prisoners took over the charge. The team took a month to implement the project in 11 prisons. Before Amit left the prison, he had installed the software in eight jails in the state.
The inmates, who are not professional computer engineers, learnt programming during their sentence in the jail with the help of Amit. Ever since the implementation, the canteens in the jails have turned cashless. Prisoners have started using biometric accounts to manage their daily expenses.
The report further added that:
“Prisoners expressed their desire to computerise the canteen of the jail and other records with regard to meeting visitors. We cooperated with them, and we are proud that because of the efforts of the prisoners, not only their names, but also the name of Bhondsi Jail have been featured in the Limca Book of Records,” Harender Singh, Superintendent of Bhondsi Jail, said.
Before the Phoenix system was installed, the inmates and visitors had to wait for hours to meet one another. Every such meeting, which was manually managed, has now turned digital. Now, every meeting is registered in the computer, and a direct message is sent to the inmate, cutting the time to 45 minutes from the previous two hours.
With this app, officials can also check the type of crime and other details of inmates. The details of parole and date of completion of their term can also be checked.
Yashpal Singhal, DGP, Jail, said,
The jails of Haryana are moving forward in the direction of improvement and rehabilitation. I am happy that the name of Bhondsi Jail and its four prisoners have been featured in the Limca Book of Records... Efforts of this type will continue.
Of the four of them, three are serving life sentences and the fourth is serving 10 years of rigorous imprisonment, says a Times of India report. Prison authorities, who seemed overwhelmed by the development, added that such a software would have cost crores, but it was done for free by Mishra and the four others.