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“Hate The Crime And Not The Criminal”--- Mahatma Gandhi

All men are born equal and are endowed by their creator with some basic rights. These rights are mainly right to life and liberty, but if any
person doesn’t comply with ethics of the society then that person is deprived of these rights with proper punishment. Many experts believe
that the main objective of prisons is to bring the offenders back to the mainstream of the society. Various workshops had been organized by
the State Government in collaboration with NGO’s to bring reforms in the current prison systems.

Many reforms can be made in jail administration, which are mainly: A- Class prisoners can meet their own expenditure by depositing certain
amount fixed by the Government for enjoying special services like tea, newspapers, pillow, and 3 times non vegetarian food in a week and
if they are vegetarian they will be served ghee, dhal and buttermilk. Many inmates usually complain about inadequate quality and quantity
of food, which is required to be improved. The food is required to be prepared in better hygienic conditions.

Rehabilitation of inmates will be meaningful only if they are employed after release and for that purpose educational facilities should be
introduced or upgraded. In many jails, inmates including hardcore criminals and women had joined various courses offered by IGNOU and
their respective State Universities. Courses mainly offered by then are BA, MA, MBA & other post graduation courses. The inmates can
also join the classes of 10th and +2 for basic guidance. In many jails with a view of imparting vocational training a fully fledged computer
training centers has been established.

The inmates are also provided training in carpentry and fabric painting. Many jails have also initiated programs for women empowerment by
training then in weaving, making toys, stitching and making embroidery items. Wage earning and gratuity schemes and incentives are also
used to reduce the psychological burden on the convicts. Recently, the Government of Himachal Pradesh had lifted ban on wearing Gandhi
cap in jails. Various seminars are organized by jail authorities to enlighten the prisoners on their legal rights, health and sanitation problems,
HIV/AIDS and issues of mental health, juveniles, minorities and steps to reduce the violence in prisons.

The open prison system has come as a very modern and effective alternative to the system of closed imprisonment. The establishment of
open prisons on a large scale as a substitute for the closed prisons, the latter being reserved for hardcore criminals shall be one of the
greatest prison reforms in the penal system.
Yet several steps have been taken to improve the conditions of prisons, but much more is required to be done.

Central Government along with NGO’s and prison administration should take adequate steps for effective centralization of prisons and a
uniform jail manual should be drafted throughout the country. The uniformity of standards can be maintained throughout all the States. Thus
such practices will help in changing the traditional and colonial outlook of the Indian Prison System and also help the prisoners to become
more responsible, creative and potential citizen.

By-Prison Reforms In Indian Prison System

Written by: Arnav Sood - I’m 4th Law Student from Symbiosis Law School Poona
India Needs Prison Reforms to
Decongest its Jails
There are 149 jails in India that are overcrowded by more than 100 per cent and that eight are overcrowded by margins of a
staggering 500 per cent. Among them the Satyamangalam sub-jail in Erode district of Tamil Nadu has 200 prisoners "stuffed" in a
space meant for 16 people. These alarming statistics were revealed in the Centre's reply in response to a question in the Lok
Sabha on August 8, 2017.

There are 1,387 functioning jails in India having a total capacity to house 3, 56,561 prisoners and there are 4, 18,536 inmates in
these jails. While prisons have been recognized as a correctional facility worldwide, Indian prisons are a perfect picture of rusty,
outdated and neglected place for housing human beings and such conditions have a direct impact on the mental and physical
health of its occupants. The main culprit is Indian prisons are still governed by a 123-year-old law -- The Prisons Act 1894.

The Supreme Court of India, in its judgments on various aspects of prison administration, has laid down three broad principles
regarding imprisonment and custody. First, a person in prison does not become a non-person. Second, a person in prison is
entitled to all human rights within the limitations of imprisonment. Third, there is no justification for aggravating the suffering
already inherent in the process of incarceration.

The Bureau for Police Research and Development's report on the implementation of the Mulla Committee recommendations
revealed that 60 per cent of the jails in the country were unable to assign new prisoners to a particular barrack or ward due to
overcrowding. However, due to the increasing number of criminals there is no escape from it. Prisoners are stuck in a dark, dingy
enclosed area where privacy is non-existent, where threats of bodily violations constantly loom, where money and power
determines the floor space to stretch legs, where the entry of "more guests" implies the quality and quantity of food and sanitation
would further suffer.

This is a far cry from the UN's Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which suggests that prison
accommodation shall be mindful of "minimum floor space, lighting, heating and ventilation."

The reason is most Indian prisons were built in the colonial era and are in constant need of repair and many of them are un-
habitable. While the prison capacity gets reduced on the ground, the number of prisoners is ever increasing. The resultant
overcrowding takes a toll on already constrained prison resources. Additionally it makes separation between different classes of
prisoners extremely difficult.

With 33 prisoners per 100,000 populations, India has one of the lowest incarceration rates in the world. If the government is
unable to adequately house these prisoners, it is a reflection of the priority it accords to prison and broadly criminal justice. So
there is urgent need for prison reforms to decongest jails in India.

While government data reveals the alarming levels of overcrowding, it is still understated and needs for urgent attention. Among
the inmates lodged in jails, there is large number of under-trials and detenues then the actual convicts. The overcrowding of the
jails is more due to non-convicts because there is no separate place to house the under-trials and the detenue.

A convict is "a person found guilty of a crime and sentenced by a court,” “an under-trial is a person who is currently on trial in a
court of law”, “a detenue is any person held in custody."

Under trial and convicted prisoners have to be housed separately and so does the inmates with mental disabilities and those with
communicable diseases. These segregations further impact the occupancy levels for inmates but there is total lack of apathy by
the government for such considerations.

The government needs to build more prisons and remodel the existing ones. The prison modernization scheme which led to the
constitution of 125 new jails was discontinued in 2009. The government, when asked about its revival in the Lok Sabha, chose not
to respond.

The problem gets compounded due the understaffing of the prison. As a result of lack of supervision, inmates are confined in their
cells for longer hours. This makes the situation worse and increases the possibility of tensions and violence within the jail

There is limited attention on correctional facilities, reform and need for privacy and with limited resources to manage and contain
these incidents, the functioning of prisons becomes difficult.

There are several kinds of jails in India; i) Central jail- Here prisoners are sentenced to imprisonment for more than 2 years and
such jails have larger capacity in comparison to other jails. ii) District jail- These jails serve as the main prisons in States/UTs
where there are no Central Jails. iii) Women's Jail- It exclusively house women prisoners. iv) Borstal School- It is youth detention
center for the imprisonment of minors or juveniles. v) Open jail- Here prisoners with good behavior are housed satisfying certain
norms prescribed in the prison rules. vi) Special Jails- It keeps offenders and prisoners who are convicted of terrorism, insurgency
and violent crimes.

Prisons in India, and their administration, are a state subject covered by item 4 under the State List in the Seventh Schedule of the
Constitution of India. The management and administration of prisons falls exclusively in the domain of the State governments, and
is governed by the Prisons Act, 1894 and the Prison manuals of the respective state governments.

Thus, the states have the primary role, responsibility and authority to change the current prison laws, rules and regulations. The
Central Government provides assistance to the states to improve security in prisons, for the repair and renovation of old prisons,
medical facilities, development of borstal schools, facilities to women offenders, vocational training, modernization of prison
industries, training to prison personnel, and for the creation of high security enclosures.

To address these issues the state government needs to build separate prisons for the convicts and the under trial and detenue.
The construction of more prisons definitely has to be considered as per population growth and the increase in the crime statistics.
The government also has to employ more staff to make the functioning of these places more transparent and humane.

By-Civil Service India
Essay on Prisons and Prison Reforms in India

Essay on Prisons and Prison Reforms in India


The existence of Prisons can be traced back to the ancient period. Initially there was a belief that rigorous isolation and custodial measures
would reform the offenders. In due course it is being substituted by the modern concept of social defense.

Development of Thought:

Custody, care and treatment are the, three main functions of a modern prison organization. For over 100 years, there was emphasis on
custody which, it was believed, depended on good order and discipline. The notion of prison discipline was to make imprisonment

Consequently, hard punitive labour with no regard for the human personalities and severe punishments were the main basis of prison
treatment. More than 40 prison offences have been listed in the jail manuals of many States and any infraction was visited by quite a few
barbaric punishments.

Gradually, the objective of imprisonment changed from mere deterrence to deterrence and reformation. This led to the abandonment of
some of the barbaric punishments and introduction of the system of awards for good work and conduct in the form of remission, review of
sentences, wages for prison labour, treatment in open conditions, parole, furlough, canteen facilities etc.

Revision has now been made to meet adequately the basic needs of food, clothing, medical care etc. Educational and vocational training
programmes along with training in scouting etc, have been introduced in jails. Custodial requirements for individuals are now at some
places determined on the basis of their antecedents, conduct and performance etc.

Despite these measures, there is yet no clear cut policy measure on prison reforms. A major problem is overcrowding in prisons especially of
under trial prisoners. The courts in recent years have also been giving serious thought to the violation of human rights of prisoners.

One can hope that in the years to come the present gap between the prisons in theory and practice will be bridged quickly and a well
planned and well coordinated programming of treatment and rehabilitation will be implemented for which adequate and efficient staff and
financial resources will be provided.


Sufficient staff, adequate financial assistance and on the whole improvement in prison conditions will bring concrete changes resulting in
rehabilitation of offenders. Prisons are known to have existed throughout history. Originally the dungeons of old castles were used for
confining enemies and rivals for enforcing on them the conditions of release.

But this was private or political use of prisons later they were used for detaining offenders while awaiting trial or until such time as
punishment was meted out.

Sentencing offenders to terms of imprisonment is comparatively a recent development. It started in the fifteenth century and became a
major form of punishment in the nineteenth century.

It was believed that rigorous isolation and custodial measures would reform the offenders. Experience, however, belied this expectation and
often imprisonment had the opposite effect.

With the development of behavioral sciences, it began to federalize that reformation of offenders was not possible by detention alone.

The traditional approach of retribution and deterrence is being gradually replaced toy the modern concept of social defense which means
protection of society and prevention of crime

In ancient India abandoned small fortresses were used as prisons. During the Muslim period. Quranic laws were followed and
imprisonment was rarely awarded.

During the British period, the East India Company introduced various reforms in "the administration of justice. There were at that time 143
civil jails containing thousands of prisoners, most of whom were employed on the construction of roads.

Every effort was made to run the prisons profitably. There was widespread corruption and abuse of powers by the prison keepers. In 1835,
Lord Macaulay drew attention to tine horrible conditions in Indian prisons and emphasized the need for making imprisonment a deterrent
to the prisoners so that acts of violence and indiscipline in prisons could be avoided.

A committee was appointed in 1836 to review prison administration. This marks the beginning of prison reforms in India. In its report of
1838, the committee recommended construction of central prisons and the appointment of an Inspector General of Prisons for each

The first central prison was constructed at Agra in 1846 and the first Inspector General of Prisons was appointed for the North Western
Province (partly present Uttar Pradesh) in 1844.
During the struggle for independence national leaders had gained first hand knowledge and experience of conditions in prisons. It was
natural for them to give attention to the improvement of conditions in prisons.

Many State governments such as Uttar Pradesh (19-46 and 1955-56), Bombay (1948), East Punjab (1948-49) Madras (19.50-51), Orissa
(1952-55) and Travancore-Cochin (1955- 56) setup reforms committees to review their jail administrations and suggest improvements.

Despite the prior claims of developmental activities and financial constraints, a considerable effort was made to humanize prison treatment
and to meet the basic needs of prisoners in respect of their food, clothing, medical attention etc.

Educational and vocational training programmes along with recreational facilities were introduced, in most of the States. The post
independence period was also marked by the study of criminology and penology by the younger prison administrators.

This was helpful in the introduction of new ideas and experiments in the field of prison reforms. Introduction of open prisons in several
States was a progressive feature of the prison administration during the fifties.

They offered an atmosphere of minimum security, greater opportunity for developing self-confidence and a sense of social responsibility in
the inmates besides offering training in modern agricultural practices, animal husbandry, poultry farming etc.

The establishment of a Central Bureau of Correctional Services at the Central level in 1961 (renamed as the National Institute of Social
Defense in 1975) was yet another important development.

This was the first Central agency to undertake research, training, documentation etc, in social defense and assist and advise the States on
matters relating to social defense.

In 1949, the central prison at Luck now in Uttar Pradesh was converted into a 'model prison" for accommodating star class prisoners who
are the best behaved. Here, every prisoner is studied and given educational and vocational training where after he gets an opportunity for
self-employment in an environment similar to the outside world as far as possible.

On the basis of his progress, as assessed from time to time, a prisoner is given graded freedom from maximum security to free-living
conditions without any watch and ward during day or night. The prisoner pays to the State the cost of his maintenance from his earnings.

To ensure good discipline and administration, an initial classification is made to segregate males from females, the young from the adults,
the convicted from the unconvinced criminal prisoners, civil from criminal prisoners and casuals from habitual and convicted prisoners.

The purpose is to reduce the danger of moral contamination. It is a matter of concern that with the abnormal increase in jail population at
certain places, even this segregation breaks down. Only at a few places, partial facilities are available to classify prisoners according to their
individual needs for rehabilitation.

About 70 per cent of convicted prisoners admitted in jails are illiterate. After independence greater attention has been paid in jails to
imparting literacy to illiterate prisoners during working hours. Whole time education teachers have been appointed for some jails, but their
numbers and standards are not yet satisfactory.

At some places educated prisoners with or without training are utilized for imparting education to other prisoners. Suitable prisoners are
also given facilities to get education in schools and colleges outside and also to appear in Public examinations as private candidates.

Jails have libraries but they are poorly stocked. Newspapers are also not supplied to the prisoners. Educational Programmes in jails are thus
half-hearted and have yet to become an integral part of the daily routine. They continue to suffer for want of funds, adequate staff and
lighting arrangements.

Daily prayers are now held in prisons and persons are appointed in honorary capacity to give religious talks to prisoners on holidays. This
system is now on the decline due to lack of interest and enthusiasm among non-officials. Prisoners are now allowed to observe important

Although the importance of vocational training in the rehabilitation of offenders is realized, there are very few institutions which give
scientific vocational training to prisoners. The qualities of instructors and of tools and equipment which are outdated have to be improved.

These programmes have not yet been diversified or developed properly to meet the rehabilitation needs of individual prisoners with the
result that they, on release, generally do not practice what they learn.

Wages are now paid to prisoners at some places but the amount earned is nominal and hardly offers any incentive or encouragement. At
very few places the wages are substantial or according to market rates.

In many States open prisons with the minimum security, based on the principle of self-discipline, constructive work and community living
have been established and at some places a phased programme from maximum security to free living conditions within the same institution
has been implemented with good results.

In some institutions, the inmates are encouraged on a selective basis to participate in the social and economic life of the community outside.

Prisoners are permitted to receive letters and visits from relations and friends. They can also write to them. The privilege of visit is only
partially utilized as the visitors are too poor to meet the journey expenses and there-is no agency to assist them.

The prisoners are also now allowed the privileges of leave and parole under different schemes and rules of entitlement differ from State to
State. These privileges are available to a limited number of prisoners and the procedure is also cumbersome.

It is, however, noteworthy that they are rarely misused. Supply of newspapers, seeing television shows and listening to radio programmes
also provide contacts with the outside world. Such facilities reduce tensions and make life inside prisons normal.

Prisoners get remissions periodically for good conduct and work. Special remissions are also given for specific special services. The
sentences are reviewed from time to time according to various rules and the prisoners are released before time if they satisfy the prescribed
Recreational programmes in prisons are a post-independence development. Physical exercises, games and sports are encouraged and quite
a few jails have been provided with radio sets.

A few prisons also have facilities to enjoy watching of television programmes, inter-jail tournaments, prison weeks and prisoners' welfare
days are now organised once a year in many States. Musical programmes, poetic gatherings, dramatic shows are also arranged by prisoners.

Panchayats of prisoners and canteens have been introduced in many States. The Panchayats supervise the preparation and distribution of
meals, organize recreations and also deal with minor complaints.

Co-operative canteens at many prisons have been running successfully and the profits made are used for the recreation and welfare of
prisoners. Under supervision, the Panchayats seem to function well.

In some States welfare officers have been appointed but their number is nominal. They keep in touch with the prisoners and help them to
adjust to their new situation. They also help prisoners in maintaining family ties. They have thus a very important role in the rehabilitation
of offenders.

The shift of emphasis from deterrence and custody to reformation and rehabilitation of offenders has necessitated recruitment for prison
services of men with humanity, integrity and a sense of social service. They have to have a stable temperament, energy, tact and patience
and ability to get on well with others.

New recruitment policies are being developed and new cadres for providing psychological, educational and welfare services are being
introduced in jails. Training of staff in the service and art of handling prisoners is also essential. Consequently training schools for prison
officers have been started in many States.

It was in Uttar Pradesh that the first training school for jail officers was started in August 1940. For a long time to come, this was the only
institution of its kind in the country. The school also received officers from other States for training.

There are three types of training courses organised by the school-a diploma course of nine months duration for senior officers and two
certificate courses for four months each in prison management and correctional treatment for assistant jailors and custodial staff.

Refresher courses are also arranged from time to time for different categories of staff. Later on, specialized courses for the training of
officers were started at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bombay Jail officers training schools have also been set up at Pune
(Maharashtra), Hissar (Haryana), and Mysore (Karnataka).

Several States such as Gujarat, Kerala, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal have formal arrangements for the
training of wardens.

The objectives of 'prison labour' have varied from time to time. The first All India Jails Committee of 1936-38, advocated that monotonous
and uninteresting tasks should be provided to prisoners and remarked that the criminal was least eligible for being taught useful arts which
was considered as reward neutralizing the pain of punishment.

On the contrary, the All India Jails Committee of 1919-20 recommended that the main objective of prison labour should be the prevention
of further crime by the reformation of criminals, for which they were to be given instruction in up-to-date methods of work enabling them to
earn a living wage on release.

The other objectives were to keep the offenders use fully engaged to prevent mental damage and to enable them to contribute to the cost of
their maintenance.

Work is allotted to prisoners on the basis of their health, length of sentence prior knowledge of a trade, and the trade which was most likely
to provide a living wage on release. After independence, punitive labour such as extraction of oil by manual labour was abolished and more
useful programmes were introduced Co train offenders as technicians.

Some effort has also been made during the last three decades to train prisoners largely drawn from among agriculturists in modern
methods of agriculture and animal husbandry but, for want of land, only limited progress could be made in this direction.

Initially, payment of wages to prisoners was opposed on the ground that they were already a burden on the State. Gradually, the need for
providing some motivation to prisoners was realized and it was considered that some monetary reward would develop interest in work and
provide the necessary incentive, more so if the prisoner was allowed to use the earnings on himself or his family.

Maharashtra was the first State to introduce in 1949 a very comprehensive system of wages.

In some of the open prisons, prisoners are paid wages at market rates out of which they pay to State their cost of maintenance. There is now
a growing realization that such liberal system of wages would provide greater incentive for higher and better production.

There is need for the introduction of a greater variety of trades and professions, keeping in view the possibilities of self-employment of
prisoners on release. Better qualified instructors, modern tools and equipment and a proper wages system would provide meaningful work
experience to the prisoners.

Prisons are now generally overcrowded with under trial prisoners and short termers. Despite the enforcement of Children Acts in various
States, a large number of children still continue to be admitted in-prison.

Probation and other alternatives to imprisonment have not yet caught the imagination of the courts in general and they have a tendency to
resort to the easiest method of imprisonment of offenders. Prisoners sentenced to fine only are sent to prison without giving them any time
to make the payment.

We have, therefore, to seek legal and administrative remedies to these problems to avoid overcrowding in prisons which affects the
efficiency of administration as the staff is overworked and involved in routine with no time for reformatory work.

Even now only a few States have efficient enforcement and administration of Children Acts. Children's Courts, too, have been established
only at a few places.
The criminal law, therefore, needs to be amended so as to make it impossible for the courts to send children and youthful offenders to
prisons except for reasons of depravity and likelihood of exercising evil influences on others.

About 80 per cent of convicted prisoners are sent to jails for short periods not exceeding three months, which only expose them to moral
contamination and result in economic hardship and distress to their dependents.

There is thus need for greater use of existing alternatives to imprisonment such as warning, probation, suspension of sentence, fines, release
on personal bond etc., and also for introducing other alternatives of a non-custodial nature such as service to the community, payment of
compensation to the victim of crime etc.

Such punishments will involve the positive cooperation of the offender which is likely to be effective in his reformation. The addition of such
punishment will add a new dimension to the penal system which will emphasize the idea of reparation to the community.

A large number of tickets less travelers are now admitted in jails for very short periods which are wasteful use of limited resources.

It would be more useful to detain them in camps at suitable places where some kind of unskilled work is being done for the Railways. Here,
they could earn wages out of which fines imposed could be recovered along with their maintenance cost in the camp.

Under trial prisoners constitute a majority of the prison population and it is significant that between 1901 and 1978, while the population of
convicted prisoners has been going down gradually that of the under trials has been increasing at an alarming rate.

Under trial prisoners are presumed to be innocent and, in fact, a major proportion of them are ultimately discharged or acquitted after
immeasurable physical and mental suffering caused by long detention due to delay in investigation and trial.

It is painful to observe that it is usually the poor and un influential persons who suffer as they are undefended or are unable to provide bail
and bond of the amount fixed by the court. Only radical changes in the administration of justice and in legal procedures could rectify such a
sad state of affairs.

In any case, there is the urgent need of liberalizing the bail procedure so that a large number of prisoners could take advantage of bail. New
methods to replace the system of bails also need to be evolved in collaboration with voluntary agencies.

The under trial prisoners are rightly not obliged to work under the law but remaining unemployed is not only against their own interest but
also a national waste. A policy of persuasion rather than coercion to engage under trial prisoners in work was thus advocated and if they
chose to work they were to be paid wages.

But in practice when they opt to work, they are employed on prison services and are in lieu thereof given laboring diet and no wages.

Recently, the criminal law has provided that the period of detention as under trial shall be counted towards the sentence of imprisonment.
This will mitigate some hardship but will not by itself encourage under trials to volunteer for work.

Quite a large number of under trial prisoners are detained in jails for long periods as they are unable to afford fees of lawyers to defend
them. In recent

Years the government has given some attention to this problem and efforts are being made to give free legal aid to the poor. If this facility is
extended to a large number of poor persons, it would not only in the long run result in the shortening of the period of detention of under
trials but might in some cases result in acquittal also.

There is also need for streamlining the legal aid and administrative procedures to prevent long detention of under trials. Courts can now
release an under trial prisoner, if a charge sheet is not filed within the prescribed period of sixty days.

This provision is permissive and needs to be made obligatory. Inspection of under trial persons detained in jails at regular intervals by the
relevant authorities could also exercise indirect pressure on the courts to expedite the trials.

A very small number of convicts at present get the benefit of facilities of leave and parole as the rules regulating them are rigid and the
procedure cumbersome.

These rules need to be reviewed with view to integrating them and enlarging the scope of eligibility of prisoners and simplifying the
procedure so it a much larger number of prisoners could be benefited and rehabilitated.

The Prisons Act and other allied legislations need to be consolidated and revised in the light of the modern trends in the treatment of

In spite of the recommendations of various jail reforms committees that the primary objective of punishment should be reclamation and
rehabilitation of the offender, no such clear policy has yet been enunciated, even though many schemes and programmes introduced after
independence do have a bearing on this aspect of treatment.

As a result, the aspect of punitive custody continues to persist, more so because the old buildings, equipment and staffing patterns continue
to exist more or less on the same basis.

The prisons are more than a hundred years old and their general layout is dominated by custodial requirements. It would help the future
development of prison administration on modern lines if a policy regarding treatment in prisons is laid down in clear terms.
Prisons are not normal places. The prisoners are deprived of freedom and normal contacts with families and friends. The deadening
disciplines, fear, helplessness which are inherent in the prison system produce mental stagnation. The emotional and material deprivations
cause frustration.

This results in corruption involving the introduction of contraband articles. This is the primitive aspect of prisons and by and large it still

The recent tendency is to diversify the institutions based on increasing freedom and facilities depending on the improvements shown by
individuals to mitigate the abnormality in the prison system. Thus for modern development, it is necessary to expand the facilities of open

There has been a continuous record of overcrowding in jails. The position is further complicated by frequent agitations resulting in
confinement of a large number of political prisoners, who claim special treatment. Overcrowding results in restlessness, tension,
inefficiency and general breakdown in the normal administration.

Magistrates and judges have not yet made adequate use of alternative sanctions such as probation etc. The State governments have also not
yet shown adequate interest in expanding probation service.

The Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Bill 1972 provides new forms of punishments such as experiment, payment of compensation to the
victim, corrective labour, public censure etc.

Although some states have passed the Habitual Offenders Restriction of Movements Act but they are still not being enforced properly. Thus
laws alone are not enough; there is also the need for the proper training of magistrates and judges with regard to the selective use of various

It is equally necessary to provide for efficient services to assist the courts in determining suitable punishment depending on the background
of the individual offenders.

The programmes of work and educational and vocational training should be such as would benefit the offender after his release. Education
as a process of learning the art of living in society represents the best means of countering criminogenic situations.

So far in jails there has been emphasis only on literacy and not on correctional or social education. Similarly, vocational training and work
programmes are limited and are not geared to the needs of rehabilitation of individuals on release.

Work is not now to be treated as additional punishment but should be treated as an important means of imparting useful values to inmates
for vocational and social adjustment and rehabilitation. These shortcomings are due to lack of finance.

Good and efficient educators and vocational instructors with modern tools and equipment need to receive special attention, and production
and training programmes require to be properly balanced.

The staffing pattern consists of four broad groups-warder or guarding staff, the middle level supervisory officers, the higher level executives,
and specialists, technical staff etc.

The middle level supervisory or executive staff consists of jailors, deputy superintendents, etc. A few welfare officers have been appointed
but their number and functions are so limited that they have failed to make any significant impact on the reformative aspect of prison

More care is now exercised in recruiting suitable persons' who are given the necessary training. It is, however, true that the staff is still made
to feel that their Primary concern is custody. They need orientation in modern methods and principles of prison correction and

By and large the morale of prison staff is low due to their hazardous and exacting tasks, long hours of duty with '"adequate housing facilities
and low emoluments.

If there are adequate and better educated staffs with proper status, they would be able to exercise a healthy influence through their personal
example and close contact with prisoners.

There have been a number of schemes and experiments in operation during the last two or three decades. New institutions like open and
semi-open prisons have been established and schemes for parole, leave etc., have been introduced.

It is time that a review of these new measures was made so that further reform could be introduced in the content of the present trends,
changing provisions laws, and in the types of crimes and criminals. There is thus urgent need for research, particularly of an evaluative
nature, on various aspects of prison administration so that a planned, coordinated and integrated scheme for future work and development
could be checked out.
In public interest, research workers cannot be given free access to prisons, but given sufficient understanding, it should be possible for the
prison department to use their training schools to carry on research in collaboration with university scholars to permit some independence
in interpretation.

The State Jail Manual of Maharashtra has been revised in accordance with the Model Jail Manual drafted by the All India Jail Manual
Committee of 1957- 58, but in actual practice, many of its provisions could not be implemented in their true spirit for want of adequate

In other States, the manuals are in different stages of drafting. It is no use revising the jail manuals unless a firm commitment can be made
to provide the services required for the implementation of 'various correctional measures envisaged in the Model Jail Manual.

A pragmatic approach would be to draw up a time-bound programme or plan, say, for five years, and to implement the various measures in

In India also the jail department is the most disadvantaged department and gets a very low priority. The financial grants recommended by
the Seventh Finance Commission are in respect of only basic amenities and additional prison capacity. They have not provided any funds
for correctional programmes.

It should be realized that if jail services in respect of reformative schemes are improved and facilities given, they can do a very important
constructive job of rehabilitation. Developmental activities of the prison department, particularly in respect of welfare and production,
should be incorporated in the five year plans.

The courts have in recent years been giving serious thought to the of human rights of prisoners and have, on that ground, interfered with
the exercise of powers of superintendents of jails in respect of measures for safe custody, good order and discipline.

At present police lock-ups and sub-jails, though under the superintendence of magistrates of judicial or medical officers, are guarded by the

This is in contravention of the basic judicial principle of keeping accused persons away from the influence of "the police. This also involves
the question of human rights and it is right time that the administrative control of these institutions is brought under the Prison

Recently, the Supreme Court of India took exception to the unduly long detention of a large number of under trial prisoners and the Central
and State governments have now started taking vigorous steps to remedy this situation.

The system of bail will have to be liberalized and new instructions to act as sureties for the appearance of the under trial prisoners when
required in courts will have to be evolved.

The need for introducing radical changes in legal and administrative procedures to prevent long detention of under trials has been stressed.
Legal aid to needy prisoners is also being given due importance. There is thus a clear trend to reduce the number of under trials and to
expedite their trial in recognition of their human rights.

After-care for ex-prisoners will assume greater importance when correctional programmes in prisons are enforced properly. Both voluntary
and statutory after-care will have to be organised in future.

Research into crime and the criminal is still in its infancy. The immediate need of research is to evaluate the existing methods of treatment
and to suggest new approaches to the prevention of crime. The value of probation, open prisons, parole and home leave as reformatory
measures need to be established.

One can now hope that in the years to come the present gap between the prisons in theory and practice will be bridged quickly and a well
planned and well coordinated programme of treatment and rehabilitation of offenders in jail will be implemented for which adequate and
efficient staff and financial resources will be provided.

The financial assistance extended to the upgrading of prisons by the Finance Commission and the recent unprecedented

concern and awareness shown at the level of the State and Central governments for improving prison conditions

will, it is expected, bring about marked changes in correction and rehabilitation of offenders confied in prison.
Panel set up to look into prison reforms
According to the GR, the committee will look into issues such
as overcrowding in prisons and their modernisation.
By: Express News Service | Mumbai | Published: June 20, 2017 3:46:48 am
ACTING ON the directions of the Bombay High Court, the government has constituted a five-member committee to look into
jail reforms. The HC is hearing a PIL seeking reforms in prisons.
According to the Government Resolution (GR), the committee will look into a host of issues ranging from modernisation of
prisons, the problem of overcrowding and the facilities required in upcoming prisons.
The committee comprises retired High Court judge Dr S Radhakrishnan, Additional Director General of Prisons Bhushan
Kumar Upadhyay, Dr Vijay Raghavan of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), retired jail superintendent S N Chavan
and a joint or deputy secretary in the prisons department.
The GR says the committee will look into the rules under the new prison manual, 2016 and the judgments given by various
High Courts and the Supreme Court on prison reforms and will recommend how to create a model prison or make changes in
the existing facilities.
The GR also says the committee will make suggestions to tackle the problem of overcrowding in jails. “Based on the
directions of the court, a committee has been constituted. It will look into a whole range of issues concerning prisons in
Maharashtra especially at the topic of overcrowding which has been a major issue concerning the prisons department.”
“The committee will also recommend various facilities that should be available in the upcoming prisons and the changes that
can be brought in the existing facilities,” said a senior official from the Maharashtra home department.
A PIL had been filed in 2015 on the prevailing conditions in jails in Maharashtra and the need for reform.
Prison Reforms and draft National Policy on Prison Reforms
First Published: May 30, 2017 | Last Updated:January 8, 2018
Prisons are a subject of state list in Indian constitution. The prisons in most states in India face problems of overcrowding,
corruption, discrimination, inequality, issues of sanitation, food and health related issues. The women prisoners face sexual
violence and so on. The issue of prison reforms came into limelight in early 1980s when K.F. Rustamji highlighted the cause
of undertrials and critical conditions of the prisons.
Factbox: K F Rustamji
Khusro Faramurz Rustamji is perheps the only police officer in India, awarded by Padma Vibhushan. He must be noted for
role played by him in plight of prisoners and undertrials. He was instrumental in setting up of the National Police
Commission in 1970s. In late 1970s and early 1980s, he visited the jails in Bihar and witnessed the plight of the undertials.
Two of his newspaper articles became basis for the first PIL Hussainara Khatoon vs State of Bihar. His efforts led to release
of around 40,000 undertrials.
Current Government Policy
Central government recently announced a package of Rs. 4000 for implementing prisons reforms in the country. State
governments are being encouraged to sell off prisons situated in “prime areas” to generate funds to create modern buildings
with facilities such as cushioned beds, clean toilets, closed-circuit TV cameras, video-conferencing facilities, and space for
yoga, sports and extra-curricular activities.
End Notes
As per latest report, in 2016, India’s judge-population ratio was 17 judges per million, which is among the lowest in the
world. There are more than two crore cases pending in courts, and almost 67% of people in Indian jails are undertrials.
Therefore, the first step to improve the pathetic conditions of prisons and prisoners must be to improve judge-population
ratio in the country. Furthermore, the government with the help of prison administration should create educational,
vocational, meditation and yoga centres for them. The meditation and yoga centres have proved very effective in improving
the self-regulation skills and control of emotions. Also, the use of department correctional services in the prison
management can prove extremely effective. Beside all this, government should also provide financial support to voluntary
organisations working on the rights, welfare and rehabilitation of the prisoners. Thus, irrespective of government’s dismal
efforts to deal with the problems of undertrials, all above mentioned initiatives will at least provide prisoners enjoy certain
human rights.

This article is a part of our content of Integrated UPSC /IAS General Studies - Target 2018 membership programme
Vijay Raghavan

Prison reforms and some fundamentals SEPTEMBER 26, 2008 00:00 IST

It is not prison buildings, but what goes on inside them, that need change.
The government recently announced a Rs. 4,000-crore package for prison reforms as part of the National
Prison Policy being implemented by the Centre. This policy will redefine prisons as correctional homes.
News reports have mentioned that State governments will be encouraged to sell off prisons situated in
“prime areas” to generate funds to create modern buildings elsewhere. These buildings will have cells
with cushioned beds and clean toilets, closed-circuit TV cameras, video-conferencing facilities, and
space for yoga, sports and extra-curricular activities. The plan includes building 200 prisons to add to the
1,300 that exist in the country.
The situation of the prisons in our country came into focus in the early 1980s, when as part of the
National Police Commission K.F. Rustomji highlighted prison conditions and the plight of undertrial
prisoners. Activists such as Sheela Barse filed public interest litigation petitions on custodial conditions,
and judges like Justice P.N. Bhagwati and Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer passed landmark judgments. These
steps brought much needed relief to thousands of undertrials, who were released on personal bond or
simply discharged. However, the situation on the ground seems to get worse by the day.
The government has set up working groups, committees and commissions to investigate the issue and
offer solutions. The more important among them were the Justice Mulla Committee Report on Prison
Reforms (1982-83) and the Justice Krishna Iyer Committee on Women Prisoners (1986-87). These
reports have, by far, given the most comprehensive accounts of what ails our prisons, and suggested a
slew of measures. The latest Draft National Policy on Prison Reforms and Correctional Administration,
2007, prepared by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D), is but old wine in a new
The draft policy includes suggestions for some welcome changes to the Prisons Act of 1894. These
include the introduction of a provision to provide for aftercare and rehabilitation services and the
appointment of officers to provide legal aid for prisoners. Also envisaged are the establishment of a
Research and Development wing, and financial assistance to non-governmental organisations working
for the rehabilitation of prisoners and community-based alternatives to imprisonment for offenders
convicted for relatively minor offences.
However, there are some rather disconcerting suggestions in the report. For example, the committee has
recommended that prisoners sentenced to simple imprisonment should be compulsorily made to work.
This suggestion de factoeliminates the difference between simple and rigorous imprisonment, and goes
against the principle of deterrence, one of the foundations of modern criminal jurisprudence. The prison
administration should instead create educational and vocational training avenues for undertrial prisoners
and prisoners sentenced to simple imprisonment. Another suggestion of the committee is to amend
Section 305-B of the Code of Criminal Procedure, making it mandatory for the trial judge to award the
maximum sentence in cases where the accused contests the charge levelled against him or her. This is an
outrageous suggestion that goes against all principles of fair trial, as set out by Article 21 and Article 22
of the Constitution.
The committee has suggested awarding compensation to victims of crimes from the wages earned by
prisoners serving rigorous imprisonment. Deductions from the wages of a prisoner after he or she has
been sentenced to imprisonment (as punishment) amounts to punishing the person twice over — a case
of double jeopardy. In countries across the world where a system of victim compensation exists, it is
awarded out of state funds (as in Australia), and not by pinching the pocket of the prisoner, who in any
case gets a pittance as wages in prison.
A worrying suggestion of the committee is the inclusion of senior police officers in prison administration
to elicit the cooperation of the police. This is in keeping with the recent trend of deputing Indian Police
Service officers in prison departments, instead of the earlier practice of prison cadre officers leading their
departments. Ensuring the cooperation of the police cannot be a ground for the inclusion of police
officers in prison administration. As with the police or the judiciary, correctional services form a
specialised area that requires training and qualification. Each cannot be replaced by the other: they have
very specific roles and functions based on the principle of separation of powers, a foundation of any
functioning democracy.
In seeking to improve prison conditions, we have to first address the low personnel- population ratio
compared to countries that have more effective justice delivery systems. Governments tend to refuse to
fill up vacancies and augment the staff strength across criminal justice wings. We need to create
departments of correctional services, instead of just renaming prisons as correctional homes. We need to
give financial and infrastructure support to voluntary organisations working on the rights, welfare and
rehabilitation of custodialised populations. Cosmetic surgery alone will not solve problems. Let us not
get seduced by cushioned beds, western toilets and single cell facilities to house our prisoners, in the
name of prison reform.
The Hindu


Indian jails are massively overcrowded, some

of them by 500 per cent
While government data reveals the alarming levels of overcrowding, it is still understated.

 Sunday, August 13, 2017 - 14:36

By Raja Bagga
The annual report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) says that the average overcrowding
rate in Indian prisons is 14 per cent. What the report does not reveal is that 149 jails in the country are
overcrowded by more than 100 per cent and that eight are overcrowded by margins of a staggering 500
per cent.
These alarming statistics were revealed in the Centre's reply in response to a question in the Lok Sabha
on August 8. It also brought into focus the horrendous levels in Satyamangalam sub-jail in Erode
district of Tamil Nadu where 200 prisoners are "stuffed" in a space meant for 16 people.

The overcrowding rate actually oversimplifies an understanding of the problem. What this statistic fails
to capture is the feeling of being stuck in a dark, dingy enclosed area where privacy is non-existent,
where threats of bodily violations constantly loom, where money and power determines the floor space
you get to stretch your legs, where the entry of "more guests" implies the quality and quantity of food
and sanitation would further suffer.

Prisoners in India are usually housed together in mega dormitories, where inmates are kept in close
proximity with little regard for dignity and basic living conditions. This is a far cry from the UN's
Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which suggest that prison accommodation
shall be mindful of "minimum floor space, lighting, heating and ventilation".

While prisons have been recognised as a correctional facility worldwide, Indian prisons are still
governed by a 123-year-old law -- The Prisons Act. The prisons are just like the Act that governs them:
rusty, outdated, neglected. This directly impacts the occupants of these prisons.

Overcrowding takes a toll on already constrained prison resources and even makes separation between
different classes of prisoners difficult.

The Bureau for Police Research and Development's report on the implementation of the Mulla
Committee recommendations revealed that 60 per cent of the jails were unable to assign new prisoners
to a particular barrack or ward due to overcrowding.

One needs to break up the problem to understand its dimension beyond percentage levels of

The rate suffers from multiple limitations. Most Indian prisons were built in the colonial era, are in
constant need of repair and part of them are unhabitable for long periods. While the prison capacity
gets reduced on the ground, this is not reflected in official figures.

Also undertrial and convicted prisoners have to be housed separately. So do inmates with mental
disabilities and those with communicable diseases. These segregations further impacts the occupancy
levels for inmates but the occupancy rate does not account for this.
With high levels of understaffing, the situation becomes even worse. As a result of lack of supervision,
inmates are confined in their cells for longer hours. This increases the possibility of tensions and
violence. With limited resources to manage and contain these incidents, the functioning of prisons also
becomes order-oriented, there is limited attention on correctional facilities, reform and need for

If the overall objective is to make prison conditions "human", it is crucial to identify the primary causes
for overcrowding. There is clearly a problem of both supply and demand. With 33 prisoners per
100,000 population, India has one of the lowest incarceration rates in the world. If the state is unable
to adequately house these prisoners, it is a reflection of the priority it accords to prison and broadly
criminal justice.

The government needs to build more prisons and remodel existing ones. The prison modernization
scheme which led to the constitution of 125 new jails was discontinued in 2009. The government, when
asked about its revival in the Lok Sabha, chose not to respond.

While government data reveals the alarming levels of overcrowding, it is still understated. The
government needs to build more prisons and employ more staff to make their functioning more
transparent and humane.
By-The NEWS Minute
Protection of Women Prisoner Rights in India - An Overview
V.Nivedha and Neelam Pandey
Profile of women prisoners
Women who enter prison usually come from underprivileged(marginalizedand
disadvantaged) backgrounds and are often characterized by histories of violence, physical
and sexual abuse. Disadvantaged ethnic minorities, foreign nationals and indigenous
people constitute a larger proportion of the female prison population relative to their
proportion within the general community, often due to the specific problemsthese
vulnerable groups face in society. In a world where there are widespread and persistent
inequities between women and men, societies continue to fail to meet the health needs of
women at key moments of their lives. A review of gender equity in health states that the
present position is “unequal, unfair, ineffective and inefficient”. The small numbers of
imprisoned women mean that there are fewer prisons for them, resulting in women often
being imprisoned further away from their homes. This causes difficulties for the woman
in maintaining her family ties and is especially a problem if she has dependent children.
Many imprisoned women are mothers and usually primary or sole caretakers for their
children. When a mother is imprisoned, her family will often break up, resulting in many
children ending up in state care institutions or alternative care. Imprisonment far from
home also complicates a woman's resettlement after release. The small number of women
prisons also results in the collective accommodation of women convicted for a wide
range of offences in a prison with a high level of security, needed only for very few
women. In fact, by far the majority of offences for which women are imprisoned are non-
violent, property or drug related for which they serve short sentences. A high security
level is disproportionate to the risk they pose. Drugrelated offences (usually for personal
use) are one of the most common crimes committed by women. The rights guaranteed in
international human rights treaties apply equally to men and women. However, the
“Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women”
additionally obliges state parties to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women,
including refraining from engaging in any act or practice of discrimination and taking
measures to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs and practices which
discriminate against women. There are also specific standards and provisions that
recognize the special needs and circumstances of female prisoners. The Body of
Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form ofDetention or Imprisonment
recognizes the need for specific measures to protect the rights and special status of
women, especially pregnant women and nursing mothers. Rules No. 23 and 53 of the
“Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Offenders” state that female prisoners
should be separated from male prisoners and supervised by female officers. It also
requires the provision of special accommodation for all necessary pre-natal and post-natal
care and treatment. In most countries, women constitute a minority of the prison
population: usually between 2% and 8%. Prison systems and prison regimes are almost
invariably designed for the majority male prison population from the architecture of
prisons, to security procedures, to facilities for healthcare, family contact, work and
training. Women's prisons are an adaptation of prisons for men. As a consequence,
prisons tend not to meet the needs of women prisoners, and women in prison are affected
by imprisonment in a particularly harsh way. All too often, the human rights and basic
dignity of women in prison are systematically violated
UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women Article 2 Violence against
women shall be understood to encompass, but not be limited to, the following: Physical,
sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it
occurs. Article 4 States should pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a
policy of eliminating violence against women and, to this end, should: Refrain from
engaging in violence against women; Exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate
and, in accordance with national legislation, punish acts of violence against women,
whether those acts are perpetrated by the State or by private persons; Develop, in a
comprehensive way, preventive approaches and all those measures of a legal, political,
administrative and cultural nature that promote the protection of women against any form
of violence, and ensure that the re victimization of women does not occur because of laws
insensitive to gender considerations, enforcement practices or other interventions; Adopt
measures directed towards the elimination of violence against women who are especially
vulnerable to violence. UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Women
Prisoners Women in prisons all around the world are at risk of rape, sexual assault and
torture. In some countries, gender-based violence is endemic in places of detention.
Sexual violence against women in prisons has received attention from the Human Rights
Committee, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the
Committee against Torture. The Special Reporters on Violence against Women and the
Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders has
documented scores of incidents of ill-treatment of women in prisons. Female juvenile
prisoners are often detained in adult prisons, where they are particularly vulnerable to
violence. Women
prisoners shall be attended and supervised only by women officers. This does not,
however, preclude male members of the staff, particularly doctors and teachers, from
carrying out their professional duties in institutions or parts set aside for women.
Problems Faced by Women Prisoners, the rate of increase in the number of women
prisoners is much greater than that for men. Already, in eleven countries women comprise
more than one in ten prisoners? The increase in the number of women in prison is, in
some countries, primarily due to the increased use of imprisonment to punish offences
that were previously punished by non-custodial sentences. This is particularly the case in
relation to drug offences and non-violent theft. Women are offending and imprisonment is
closely related to women's poverty. Women are particularly vulnerable to being detained
because of their inability to pay fines for petty offences and/or to pay bail. Women on
remand constitute a large percentage of the women's prison population in many countries.
Women offenders typically come from economically and socially disadvantaged
segments of society. Typically, they are young, unemployed, have low levels of education
and have dependent children. Many have histories of alcohol and substance abuse. A high
proportion of women offenders have experienced violence or sexual abuse. At the same
time, there tends to be greater stigma attached to women's imprisonment than men’s and
women who have been in prison may be ostracized by their families and communities.
Problem of prisoners languishing in jails without trial is a very serious one confronting
judiciary. Non- availability of separate prisons for women and their sexual exploitation
are the common problems of Indian prison system. The imprisonment of mother with
dependent young children is a problematic issue. Female wards in prisons are mostly over
crowded. Adequate clothing and toilet facilities are not made available. The general
health care of women prisoners in prisons is not up to the mark. The facilities for
education, vocational training and recreational facilities are also very limited.
Suggestions Some suggestions have been given below to improve the conditions of
women prisoners: Programmes should be conducted to sensitise the prison
administration on gender issues and the special needs of women prisoners. Besides
special facilities for pregnant women, arrangements should be made to allow women to
go back to their families for post natal care. It is necessary to take special care to
rehabilitate women prisoners, as it is harder for them to find acceptance in civil society
after release than men. Thus women should be specially equipped with vocational skills
to empower them to earn their livelihood on return to society