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Prison Reforms In Indian Prison System

Written by: Arnav Sood - I’m 4th Law Student from Symbiosis Law School Poona
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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.

The author can be reached at: arnavsood@legalserviceindia.com / Print This Article

Also Read
Healthcare For Prisoners:
People believe that prisoners are sent to prison as punishment, and not for punishment. This implies that the loss of an individuals right to liberty is enforced by containment in a closed environment. Thus keeping the individual in the custody of the state, should not, however, have a deleterious effect on him.

Status of Jails In Punjab:
Goal or Jail or prison, the two forms of the word are due to the parallel dual forms in old Central and Norman respectively, ‘jaiole’ or ‘jaole’, and ‘gaiole’ or ‘gayole’. The spelling ‘jail’ is used in American prisons, were first used in England for punishment during sixteenth century.

Overcrowding of Civil Jails:
According to the Code of Civil Procedure, Section 51 empowers the court to order execution of a decree by arrest and detention in prison of the judgement debtor in appropriate cases for the period specified in section 58, CPC. No order of detention of the judgement debtor in civil prison is to be made where the total amount of the decree does not exceed five hundred rupees.

Role of Judiciary in Protecting the Rights of Prisoners:
Judiciary in every country has an obligation and a Constitutional role to protect Human Rights of citizens. As per the mandate of the Constitution of India, this function is assigned to the superior judiciary namely the Supreme Court of India and High courts.

The Problems of Undertrials:
Criminal Law of India is a replica of colonial times. It is hostile to the poor and the weaker sections of society.

Taking Prisoners Rights Seriously:
In the case of Hussainara Khatoon v. State of Bihar , a shocking state of affairs in regard to the administration of justice came forward. An alarmingly large number of men and women, including children are behind prison bars for years awaiting trial in the court of law.

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