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Protection of Children with Mothers in Prisons

The children with mothers in prisons are exposed to the prison environment and face a social stigma. Some children are born in prisons and all children up to the age of six years are allowed to live with their mothers in the prisons. We need to understand the vulnerability faced by children who have mothers incarcerated, necessitating special care and attention. Upholding the rights and facilitating healthy growth of such children will ensure their protection.

The presence of children with their mothers in prisons can adversely impact their emotional and social wellbeing. Many countries have enacted legislation and established institutions to protect the rights and welfare of such children. The societies as a whole and the governments have to work unitedly to ensure that the rights of these children are safeguarded and upheld.

By providing these children access to counseling, therapy, support, and age-appropriate interventions we can effectively address the challenges staring these children in the face throughout the period of their confinement in prisons with their mothers.

Though the protection of children is a universal concern, the protection of children of prisoner mothers lodged in jails is seldom given due consideration for these children remain hidden from the direct view of the society. Children with incarcerated mothers face specific challenges and need our particular attention and support.

When a mother is put in prison, it profoundly affects her children both socially and emotionally, who have to remain in prison for the crime committed by their mothers. Such children are prone to abuse, neglect, exploitation and various forms of violence. Protecting and safeguarding the rights and requirements of such children are essential for their proper and healthy physical and mental development.

A large number of such children who are lodged in various correctional homes throughout the country are in need of societal and governmental attention for the protection of their rights in the depressing environment of the correctional homes plagued by unhealthy environment and shortage of buildings, officer and staff, amenities, healthcare facilities and proper nutrition. Overcrowding in some prisons make the correctional homes more uninhabitable for the children and their mothers.

West Bengal Scenario
Number of Correctional Home
There are in toto 60 (Sixty) Correctional Homes in West Bengal. In West Bengal Jails/Prisons are called Correctional Homes. Their classification in terms of category is given in the table below:

SL. No. Category of Correctional Home Number
1 Central Correctional Home 08
2 District Correctional Home 13
3 Special Correctional Home 04
4 Women Correctional Home 01
5 Open Correctional Home 04
6 Subsidiary Correctional Home 30
  Total 60

Dum Dum Central Correctional home in West Bengal is the most populated having around 4,000 prisoners.

Types of Correctional Home
There are mainly seven types of prisons, which are defined below:
  • Central Correctional Home (CCH):
    Convicts and undertrial prisoners are kept here.
  • District Correctional Home (DCH):
    Normally undertrial prisoners are kept here. Undertrial prisoners are sent to central correctional homes after their conviction. Nowadays some convicts are also kept in district correctional homes
  • Subsidiary Correctional Home:
    Undertrial prisoners reside here.
  • Women's Correctional Home:
    Only women prisoners are lodged here.
  • Semi Open or Open Correctional Home:
    Only convicts live here, and they are allowed to work to earn their own livelihood.
  • Borstal Schools:
    Prisoners between 18 and 21 years of age live here. There is no such school in West Bengal at present.
  • Special Correctional Home:
    Any state may define a prison as special jail; however, no fixed criteria are there to define what constitutes them.
Increase in Population
The present population of prisons is 27490 whereas the population in 2009 was 17586.

The prison population which is increasing steadily is a cause for concern. Overcrowding in prisons is now a universal phenomenon. Overcrowding and poor health infrastructure in prisons affect the prison environment negatively and leads to clashes between the prisoners, problem between the prisoners and prison staff and a greater number of deaths in the prisons.

The present population of all the prisons of West Bengal is 27490 as against the registered population capacity of 21476. This indicates overcrowding in many prisons. Overcrowding may also affect the mental health, wellbeing and overall development of the children and their mothers in prisons. However, very few female enclosures of correctional homes in West Bengal where women reside are overcrowded.

Protection of Prisoner Mothers of Children
The protection of children with their mother in prisons cannot be ensured without the protection and welfare of their mothers, who are not always personally responsible for being in prisons and are themselves victims of other criminals and drug mafias. Women in prison when separated from their relatives, husband and children become emotionally and mentally vulnerable.

Their pregnancy during the prison period makes their life difficult both physically and psychologically. It is imperative that prison services worldwide turn more sensitive in recognizing and addressing mental health issues of such women prisoners timely.

They should not be subjected to harsher punishment in jails as compared to men for breach of prison discipline. Gender-responsive treatment and services is required for women prisoners as their nature of crime is different from that of male offenders. Their vocational and educational needs should be fulfilled as they tend to fall short of the same facilities provided to male prisoners.

In prisons lactating and pregnant mothers are given special diet and are allowed to keep their children up to the age of six as directed by the Honorable Supreme Court of India. After the children have attained the age of 6, they are separated from their mother and either placed with a relative or transferred to a Government Home for Children.

The names of correctional homes where there is provision for housing female Inmates presently and number of female Inmates lodged as on 10.06.2019 are given below:

SL No. Name of Correctional Home

Registered Capacity

No. of Females Lodged
Male Female
1 Jalpaiguri CCH 666 47 74
2 Siliguri Special C.H. 171 52 18
3 Alipurduar DCH 224 35 07
4 Coochbehar DCH 186 33 23
5 Raiganj DCH 107 14 07
6 Darjeeling DCH 76 12 02
7 Mathabhanga SCH 25 05 02
8 Islampore SCH 94 05 03
9 Kurseong SCH 22 04 01
10 Berhampore CCH 1828 149 141
11 Malda DCH 436 70 33
12 Balurghat CCH 394 101 50
13 Kandi SCH 38 04 07
14 Midnapore CCH 1481 111 105
15 Purulia DCH 297 19 15
16 Bishnupur SCH 56 10 05
17 Bankura DCH 202 15 23
18 Jhargram Special C.H. 95 06 07
19 Ghatal SCH 17 04 10
20 Haldia SCH 74 33 09
21 Contai SCH 80 17 11
22 Tamluk SCH 98 16 13
23 Dum Dum CCH 2509 101 286
24 Krishnanagar DCH 853 63 78
25 Alipore WCH 00 226 319
26 Burdwan CCH 452 179 74
27 Asansol Special C.H. 249 09 14
28 Kalna SCH 34 28 07
29 Hooghly DCH 454 47 41
30 Chandannagar SCH 93 32 05
31 Arambagh SCH 28 07 03
32 Suri DCH 656 18 35
33 Rampurhat SCH 41 05 02
34 Diamond Harbour SCH 111 05 16

The highest number of female prisoners is lodged in Alipore WCH, Dum Dum CCH, Berhampore CCH, Midnapore CCH, Jalpaiguri CCH and Hooghly DCH. In Dum Dum CCH, Alipore Women's CCH, Jalpaiguri CCH, Krishnanagar DCH, Asansole Special CH, Suri DCH, Bankura DCH and Diamond Harbour SCH, the number of prisoners' population residing is more than the registered capacity of the prisons and they are overcrowded.

The West Bengal Correctional Services Act, 1992
The following two rules of the West Bengal Correctional Services Act, 1992 define the position of children with mothers in prisons present in the correctional homes of West Bengal.

Rule 69 (1) states that a female prisoner can keep her child with herself till he/she attains the age of five years.

According to Rule 69(2) the superintendent of the correctional home will be responsible for proper care and nourishment of such child. After the child attains the age of five years and in case of refusal of the father and other relatives of the child to accept him/her, the superintendent will sent notice to the Commissioner of Police or the District Magistrate for making arrangement for care of the child in consultation with the Director, Welfare of the state.

Rule 69(3) stipulates that if a child is born in the correctional home, the superintendent of the correctional home shall make all hygienic arrangements as are necessary both for the mother and child and provide facilities of such ceremony as are customary to the community the child belongs to.

Number of Children in Correctional Homes
The percentage of women in the total population of prisoners in the correctional homes of West Bengal is 7-8. 1-2% of the total population of prisoners is children. All measures have been put in place to protect and safeguard the rights of children as per direction of the Honourable Supreme Court of India in this regard.

The highest number of children i.e. 33 male and 26 female reside in Dum Dum Central Correctional Home, followed by Jalpaiguri Central Correctional Home having 22 male and 17 female children. Berhampore Central Correctional Home has 16 male and 11 female children. A total of 184 children including 103 male and 81 female are lodged in the correctional homes of West Bengal. In many correctional homes no child resides. However, even in some subsidiary correctional homes some children are present.

Many NGOs are engaged in looking after the welfare of the children. Some of these children have been admitted to schools outside the prisons and they attend schools from their residence at the prison. Children are regularly taken out of the prisons for their visit to the zoo and other venues for their entertainment. Special food and dress are provided to the children from the correctional home.

Some children also take part in cultural activities in the correctional homes. Medical facilities are provided to the children when needed. In the birth certificate it is not mentioned that they were born in prisons. However, after the attainment of 6 years of age, many mothers don't want to get separated from their children and want to keep their children with them at the prisons. Both mother and child cry during separation and the prison atmosphere becomes emotionally surcharged.

The number of children lodged with female prisoners in different correctional homes of West Bengal as reported in the month of July, 2023 is given below:
SL.No. Name of Correctional Home

Children Lodged

  SL.No. Name of Correctional Home

Children Lodged

Male Female Male Female
1 Jalpaiguri CCH 22 17   31 JhargramSpl CH 0 1
2 Coochbehar DCH 1 0 32 Tamluk SCH 0 0
3 Darjeeling DCH 0 0 33 Raghunathpur SCH 0 0
4 Alipurduar DCH 0 0 34 Dumdum CCH 33 26
5 Siliguri Spl CH 2 2 35 Krishnanagar DCH 4 5
6 Dinhata SCH 3 0 36 Barrackpore Spl CH 0 0
7 KurseongSCH 0 0 37 BairhatSCH 0 0
8 Kalimpong DCH 0 1 38 Bongaon SCH 0 0
9 Mathabhanga SCH 0 0 39 Kalyani SCH 0 0
10 MekhliganjSCH 0 0 40 RanaghatSCH 0 0
11 TufangnjSCH 0 0 41 TehattaSCH 1 0
12 Berhampore CCH 16 11 42 Presidency CH 0 0
13 Lalgola Open Air CH 0 0 43 Howrah DCH 0 0
14 JangipurSCH 0 0 44 Alipore WCH 5 8
15 Kandi SCH 0 0 45 UluberiaSCH 0 0
16 Lalbagh SCH 0 0 46 Burdwan CCH 3 2
17 Balurghat CCH 3 3 47 Suri DCH 1 0
18 Malda DCH 2 2 48 Hooghly DCH 0 0
19 Raiganj DCH 2 0 49 Asansole DCH 1 0
20 Raiganj Open CH 0 0 50 BolpurSCH 0 0
21 Islampore SCH 0 0 51 RampurhatSCH 0 0
22 Midnapore CCH 4 1 52 Durgapur SCH 0 0
23 Midnapore OCH 0 0 53 Durgapur Open CH 0 0
24 Bankura DCH 0 1 54 Kalna SCH 0 0
25 Purulia DCH 0 0 55 Katwa SCH 0 0
26 Purulia Spl CH 0 0 56 ChandannagarSCH 0 0
27 Bishnupur SCH 0 0 57 SerampurSCH 0 0
28 ContaiSCH 0 0 58 Arambag SCH 0 0
29 GhatalSCH 0 0 59 Baruipur CCH 0 0
0 Haldia SCH 0 0 60 Diamond Harbour SCH 0 1
  Total 55 38   Total 48 43

Male Children: 103; Female Children: 81; Total: 184; CCH: Central Correctional Home; DCH: District Correctional Home; Spl CH: Special Correctional Home; SCH: Subsidiary Correctional Home; WCH: Women's Correctional Home; Open Air CH: Open Air Correctional Home

Inspection of Prisons
The inspection of prisons is necessary to ensure that they are working as per laws, rules and regulations and policies of the government. Along with senior officers of the prison department, concerned judicial officers, National Human Rights Commission, State Human Rights Commission and certain people representatives inspect the prisons from time to time to look into the grievances of the prisoners and redress the same as far as possible. Inspections are necessary to maintain discipline and decorum of the prisons, prisoners and prison officials and staff and also to deal with violation of human rights issues of the prisoners.

Board of Visitors (BOV)
A Board of Visitors (BOV) has been formed in the state by the order of the government to look into the environment of the correctional homes and the condition of the prisoners. This board is mandated to visit the prisons regularly and to make recommendations to improve the prison conditions to the government. The members of this board are drawn from various fields of the society to bring transparency and openness into prisons.

Under Trial Review Committee (UTRC)
Under-Trial Review Committee (UTRC) consisting of the District & Sessions Judge as Chairperson, District Magistrate, Superintendent of Police, Officer-in-Charge of prisons and the Secretary, District Legal Services Authority has been formed as per direction of the Honourable Supreme Court issued in April 2015 in the case of 'Re-Inhuman Conditions in 1382 Prisons' to periodically review the cases of all prisoners to detect cases of unnecessary detention and recommend appropriate action for their release.

The meeting of this committee must be held once in a year. There is scope for further improvement in the working of this committee regarding smooth and regular release of unnecessarily detained prisoners.

The protection of children with their mothers in prisons can be best ensured by the protection of their mothers in prisons. Both mother and child live in distress in the prison. Some mothers are the victims of circumstances and their poor economic condition may be held responsible for their plight. Some are pawn in the hands of big drug mafia who use them to work as carrier of drugs in lieu of small amount of money and leave them to suffer in prisons after their arrest by the law enforcement authorities on the charge of possessing drugs.

Many women prisoners cannot come out of the prison as they cannot engage good advocates to represent their cases in the courts due to poverty and the advocates provided by the free legal services authorities seldom pursue their cases in the court with the vigor required for their release. The poorly and irregularly paid advocates working for free legal services authorities are mostly inexperienced and fail to give justice to the mothers in distress.

Depriving parole to the under-trial prisoners lodged in the correctional homes aggravate the mental condition of the mothers and their children further. The parole laws need to be amended to provide succor to the prisoners languishing in prisons for a long period without bail and regular trial. A big chunk of the budget allocated to the prison department is spent on providing food daily to more than 27,000 prisoners lodged in different correctional homes of the state.

Paying salary to the officers and staff deputed at the correctional homes consumes another major portion of the budgetary allocation. Hence, little remains for investing in improving healthcare, prison holding capacity of the prisons and other infrastructural facilities in the correctional homes. The budgetary allocations for the prisons department need to be substantially increased for better facilities for the prisoners lodged in correctional homes.

Without this it is very difficult to improve the condition of children in the correctional homes and to safeguard and protect their interests and wellbeing. Recognizing and upholding the rights of these children is crucial as they are the victims of their mothers' crimes and find themselves in prison without any fault of their own.

  1. The West Bengal Correctional Services Act, 1992.
  2. R.D. Upadhyay vs State of A.P. � Important Supreme Court Cases 2006, Indian Constitution.
  3. Reports of Superintendents of all Sixty (60) Correctional homes of West Bengal.

Written By: Md. Imran Wahab, IPS, IGP, Provisioning, West Bengal
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9836576565

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