Alipore Women's Correctional Home is the only women's correctional home in West
Bengal. Around 315 women prisoners reside in this correctional home. There are
1818 women prisoners (including 315 prisoners of Alipore Women's Correctional
Home) in West Bengal in toto in different correctional homes, where they live in
separate enclosures. Some women live with their children. A lady officer is
posted as Superintendent in Alipore Women's Correctional Home.
their children, partner and family members affect the women prisoners mentally
and psychologically and they need extra sensitivity from the superintendent and
other staff of the correctional home particularly in respect of their diet and
physical and mental health. The scars of their exploitation as couriers by drug
dealers and barons remain etched in their minds.
The construction of more
numbers of women's correctional homes will benefit the women's prisoners
immensely as in other correctional homes where both male and female prisoners
are accommodated, the women prisoners have to remain secluded and confined in a
In West Bengal jails and prisons are called as correctional homes. The common
problems for women in prisons generally originate from both the lives they led
before their imprisonment as well their actual incarceration. Women arrive in
prisons usually with a different set of problems than male prisoners do.
Most prisons do not take into account the importance of the mother-child
relationship in designing policy for women in prison. Coordinating visits to the
prison and support services with child welfare agencies, providing special
visiting areas, developing effective parenting classes, and developing community
corrections programs for mothers and their children are examples of these
Termination of parental rights also affects prison mothers.
Advocates of women in prison and their children argue that family reunification,
rather than termination of the mother's parental rights, should be a priority of
correctional policy for women prisoners.
Problems faced by Women Prisoners
Women constitute a vulnerable group in prisons. Although there are considerable
variations in their situation in different countries, a number of factors are
common to most.
- The challenges they face in accessing justice on an equal basis with men in many countries;
- The scars of their exploitation as couriers by drug dealers and barons remain etched in their minds;
- Their vulnerable condition during pregnancy;
- Their disproportionate victimization from sexual or physical abuse prior to imprisonment;
- Inadequate or substandard physical and mental health care often as a result of domestic violence and sexual abuse;
- Their high level of drug or alcohol dependency;
- The extreme distress imprisonment causes to women, which may lead to mental health problems or exacerbate existing mental disabilities;
- Sexual abuse and violence against women in prison;
- The high likelihood of having caring responsibilities for their children, families, and others;
- Gender-specific healthcare needs that cannot adequately be met;
- Both pre and post-release stigmatization, victimization, and abandonment by their families;
- The pain of living separately from their children and partners;
- The pain of getting separated from their children after they attain 6 years of age;
- The fear of falling prey again to the shenanigans of the drug dealers and barons after release from the prison.
- Lack of proper rehabilitation after their release;
- Failure to engage good advocates to pursue their cases and defend them in courts due to poor economic condition.
- Lack of vocational or educational programs and an unsafe prison environment.
Although some male offenders might face somewhat similar problems, the problems
faced by women in prisons differ significantly in terms of the effects on the
women and their lives both in and out of prison.
Management of Women Prisoners
It is a fact that a good number of the inmates of Alipore Women's Correctional
Home, Kolkata come from the poor and marginalized sections of society, where the
education of women is not the norm. There are around 315 inmates in Alipore
Women's Correctional Home at present. During the review of the case table, which
is done by the Superintendent and the Chief Controller regularly, the inmates
are always asked whether they have been able to engage an advocate and in case
they communicate that they cannot afford one, they are always offered the
services of a government advocate through the District Legal Services Authority.
The case table is reviewed with the same care and diligence even when a
convicted person comes as an inmate to the Correctional Home.
They are also
counseled about the scope of appeal to Higher Courts. In Alipore Women's
Correctional Home, every possible effort is made to ensure that lack of legal
representation does not cause any delay in the delivery of criminal justice.
Alipore Women's Correctional Home has an OPD under the supervision of two
Medical Officers and three visiting Specialist Doctors. Moreover, any case that
requires treatment that is beyond the health care facilities available within
the Correctional Home is referred to outside hospitals in Kolkata like SSKM,
Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, Sambhunath Pandit Hospital and
Chittaranjan Shishu Sadan etc.
All inmates, upon being received in the
Correctional Home are compulsorily checked by the Medical Officers within 24
hours of their arrival. Women inmates have greater primary and gender-specific
health care needs as compared to their male counterparts. Moreover, at any time,
on an average there are more than 20 children residing in the Correctional Home
with their mothers.
The Pregnant and Nursing Mothers too need to be provided
ante-natal and post-natal care. Other than the Medical Officers, there are NGOs
as well who provide psychological counseling and family counseling to such
inmates to ensure their mental well-being. As the only Correctional Home in West
Bengal meant exclusively for women, Alipore Women's Correctional Home is also
the home of a number of women who are HIV positive and are under constant
treatment and monitoring of Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine.
The food that is cooked in the kitchen, equipped with a gas oven, is kept
palatable as well as nutritional. Children, old inmates, sick inmates and others
whom the Medical Officers consider eligible for medical diet are provided with
special diet. Cooking is done by the female inmates. All attempts are made to
keep the cooking environment clean and hygienic. Special menus are served on
days of festivals.
Male officers do not enter inside the correctional home alone even if they have
any duty to attend to there. If a male officer has an unavoidable duty inside
the correctional home premises, he is compulsorily accompanied by a female
warder or a female officer. The keys of the wards are kept with the female
warders during the day, and after the wards and the enclosure are locked up at
night, the keys are handed over to the Chief Controller till the next morning
for opening of the wards. The inmates of the Correctional Home are provided with
a looking glass, one in each ward, and combs. The Hindu married inmates are also
provided with vermillion, if desired by them.
Remissions are granted to the inmates as per the provisions of the West Bengal
Correctional Services Act, 1992. All the inmates (except those convicted under
the NDPS Act) sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for any period exceeding three
months are given remission at the rate of four days per month. A female inmate
who has attained 45 years of age is entitled to ordinary remission at the rate
of 6 days per month.
In addition, special remissions, as admissible under the
rules are also provided by the Superintendent. Convicts are also granted parole
as per order of ADG and IG of Correctional Services, West Bengal. Inmates have
the facility of writing letters to relatives and friends. They have the right to
have interview, generally once in a week, for 20 minutes, with relatives and
Alipore Women's Correctional Home has a bakery unit which produces cakes,
biscuits, garlic bread, bread and pizzas. A number of inmates work there, who
have been trained by top institutes of West Bengal like Taj Bengal and Institute
of Hotel Management. Moreover, with the help of NGOs, many inmates of the
Correctional Home have been imparted training in stitching, embroidery,
candle-making and cultivation of mushroom etc. There is also a sanitary napkin
making unit inside the Correctional Home and many inmates have been imparted
training in the production of sanitary napkins.
Women inmates have been
performing stage performance of "Dance Drama" in public places, not only within
the state but also in other states. The primary aim of such endeavors is to
enable the women inmates to learn such skills so that they can be rehabilitated
post-release and can be engaged in some profession using the skills that they
had learnt during their stay in the correctional home. This provides them
economic independence and also helps to prevent recidivism to an extent.
Books are issued to the interested inmates from the library for satisfaction of
intellectual hunger and development of knowledge. Adult education is imparted by
the NGOs or educated inmates. Interested inmates can acquire higher educational
Some inmates passed their Secondary Examinations from here. Last
year one inmate appeared in Higher Secondary Examination. There are adequate
facilities for recreations, games, newspaper reading, and cultural activities
for the inmates. Women inmates observe Saraswati Puja, Eid, Durga Puja,
International Women's Day and Rabindra Jayanti etc.
The relation between the correctional home and an inmate does not stop the
moment her release order is received. During release, the administration always
makes sure that somebody has come from her family to take her back. It is the
responsibility of the officers of the correctional home to ensure that she
reaches her home safely.
However, there have been cases where due to amnesia
inmates have been unable to recall their addresses and no family member ever got
in touch with the correctional home to take them away after release. In such
unfortunate cases as well, after the best efforts of the correctional home
officers fail to trace their family members out, they were sent, through proper
procedure to the safe custody of a government home through the intervention of
the Social Welfare Department of Government of West Bengal.
There has also been
a case where an inmate, who was totally paralyzed in the lower section of her
body, was not received by any member of her family after her release. In this
case, through the intervention of the Social Welfare Department of Government of
West Bengal, a safe refuge in a government home was arranged for her.
In Alipore Women's Correctional Home some children live with their mothers or
grandmothers. While dealing with them, the guidelines issued by the Honourable
Supreme Court of India regarding children living with their mothers in
Correctional Homes in the case of R.D. Upadhyay vs the State of A.P. and Ors
dated 13.04.2006, are strictly followed in this correctional home.
after the children it is kept in mind that they are non-prisoner inmates of the
correctional home. They are not only provided with special medical diet, the
correctional home also has an informal schooling system for the children run by
an NGO, and the school-house is not only the site of conducting classes, but
also has toys and a children's library to ensure that the healthy mental growth
of the children is not hampered. There is a "Shishu Alay", an ICDS Centre, run
by Social Welfare Department of the Government of West Bengal for the children
of the inmates of the Correctional Home.
The entire administration and management of the correctional home, based firmly
on the provisions of the West Bengal Jail Code Jail Code, West Bengal
Correctional Services Act, 1992 and various orders and guidelines of the
government and the courts, runs on an in-depth study of the female psychology.
The officers and staff of this correctional home make sincere efforts for the
educational, moral, cultural and vocational development and safety and security
of the prisoners along with enforcement of discipline amongst them.
Women in prisons are a vulnerable to abuse and both physical and mental
problems. The presence of children with women prisoners increases the
responsibilities of the prison staff. The handling of pregnant and lactating
mother needs to be done with more sensitivity and care by the prisons.
emotional and psychological wellbeing of the women prisoners and their children
should be ensured by the prison authorities. There is only one women's
correctional home in West Bengal located in Kolkata. There are around 1818 women
prisoners in the correctional homes of West Bengal. More women's correctional
homes with proper infrastructure and medical facilities are required to be set
up to look after the welfare of women prisoners properly.
- Report of the Superintendent of Alipore Women's Correctional Home.
- What are Common Problems for Women in Prison? S. Ashraf.
- Prisons: Prisons for Women; Problems and Unmet Needs in the Contemporary Women's Prison.
- Handbook for prison managers and policymakers on Women and Imprisonment; United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
- Reports of Superintendents of 60 Correctional Homes of West Bengal.
Written By: Md. Imran Wahab,
IPS, IGP, Provisioning, West Bengal
Email: [email protected]
, Ph no: 9836576565