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Equality Should Preponderate In Penitentiaries

This article will focus on working of prison system in india and provides types of jails that are available in India. This article will show various aspects of inequality in prisons, regarding castes or gender. The problem of inequality is faced by various inmates, which motivates us to search what happens inside a prison and this also results in frequent changes in Indian prison system. Indian prison system is regulated by an act named as the prison act,1894.

Prison is something where convicts are legally restrained in consideration that they have committed a crime. generally, it is assumed that a prison is generally a place for punishment in spite it is a place for the transformation of a convicted person. In the United States, for example, criminals sentenced for federal offenses are held in institutions of varying levels of security operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The majority of prisoners are held in state institutions, some of which house several thousand inmates in high-security facilities.

Prisoners who have been charged with minor offenses, or who are serving short sentences, are most commonly held in municipal jails[1]. In India and other countries having a federal government, prisons are administered by the state government. The administration of prison is covered under item 4 of the state list, schedule VII of the Indian constitution.

Do all prisoners are treated equally in the prison? All fundamental rights regarding equality [article 14-18]impliedly deal with the rights of prisoners. under the right to equality, prisoners do not find any right for themselves to exercise inside the jail. there was a recent case, [names have been changed, so that original identity of the person is not revealed] Samar Kumar* was suffering from torture, spoiled food and water, harsh cold, and from tough labour. when he entered the jail one police constable asked him his caste and he replied, I am from a scheduled caste. the policeman was not pleased by listening to this.

For one week Samar and some of the other prisoners cleaned all the toilets, sewages and cleaned the veranda. After some time Samar said, I think this is the work that every prisoner should do and not only we 6 people in the jail. It was clear that work was distributed according to their caste only. Therefore, those who were at the end of caste system were made to do cleaning work, those who came in the middle of the caste pyramid did cooking work and rich people sometimes, did nothing.

This arrangement had nothing to do with the crime, the one has done. after acquitting from the jail Samar said, my father trained me as an electrician but inside the jail I was only a cleaner. the most painful incident he recalled was that one-day prison guard said him to clean a choked septic tank. the toilets of the jail were overflowing but police did not call anyone from outside to fix it. I was astonished that they wanted only me to clean this tank. He did not oppose much and began intruding into the tank, undressing and enclosing himself with human faeces.

I thought I would die and I began wailing. He can easily determine the caste of the prisoner just by looking at their work done by them in the jail. Every state has its different prison manual , but they generally work on The Prisons Act 1894.

Chapter 5 and Section 27 of The Prisons Act 1894 states, Separation of prisoners.

The requisitions of this Act with respect to the separation of prisoners are as follows:
  1. in a prison containing female as well as male prisoners, the females shall be imprisoned in separate buildings, or separate parts of the same building, in such manner as to prevent their seeing, or conversing or holding any intercourse with, the male prisoners
  2. in a prison where male prisoners under the age of 1 [twenty-one] are confined, means shall be provided for separating them altogether from the other prisoners and for separating those of them who have arrived at the age of puberty from those who have not;
  3. unconvicted criminal prisoners shall be kept apart from convicted criminal prisoners; and
  4. civil prisoners shall be kept apart from criminal prisoners.[2]
There are different types of prisons in india. According to national crime records bureau ,there were 1350 jails in the whole country and also there are various types of jail institutions- central jails, district jails and sub jails. The other types of jails which are women jails, borstal schools, open jails and special jails.

According to national crime records bureau, report 2020, there are only jails, exclusively for women only in 15 states. Open prison is a prison where, prisoners are kept with minimum restrictions and are trusted upon for completing their punishment tenure and are not often locked in a prison cell. there are a total 4,320 inmate population of 4196 males and only 124 females , who were in open jail of the country.

In fact , according to the report of ncrb(2020) , as on 31st December 2019, there were total 4167 males in open jail and only 121 females. This shows that females are not treated equally ,very less women are there in open jails. Repudiating eligible women prisoners to go in open jails will counter those women who have completed their last stake of the punishment and have reformed themselves into a good human being . positively, they deserve a better lifestyle than other prisoners in the jail in the same manner as a male prisoner is allowed to live in open jail.

This will make them comfortable and used to the outer life again ,as they will be going out from the prisonerís lifestyle. This resembles that we have a long walk left in bringing equality in india in all aspects and even inside the jails too. There is also very less strength of women jail officers/staff as on 31st December 2019, there are total 7503 women officers/staff only in India. Whereas total actual officers/staff in jail are 58399. Death of the prisoner in the prison is always a matter of concern as it may lead to law-and-order problems.

Deaths are broadly categorized into two category:
  1. Natural deaths and
  2. Unnatural deaths in the prison.
Natural deaths are considered deaths related to ageing or illness. Illness can be related to lungs, liver, heart, kidney or other problems such as cancer ,HIV, tuberculosis ,cholera etc. whereas unnatural deaths can be due to suicide or murder by inmates itself , death due to assault or excessiveness by jail personnel and any kind of accidental deaths come under unnatural deaths.

Unnatural deaths are on surge from 2015 to 2016 deaths were increased from 115 to 231 but now according to the data released in 2020 , there is decrease in unnatural deaths (165),this is the only positive result we have seen so far. The data does not include the number of prison visits by official and non-official visitors which typically include district magistrates and judges, social workers and researchers. This is essential to uncover torture and other forms of ill-treatment, increase transparency and balance the power asymmetry in prisons.[3]

As India have a wide detailed act on the prison system that is the prison act, 1894 which provide laws and duties of officers, medical officers, superintendent, jailer , subordinate officer and also every aspect related to a prison system but still there is a need to see some arenas related to equality for women and equality among prisoners by ignoring their castes.

The main objective of prison system should be to bring reformation and teach prisoners the right way to lead their life in the integrated society . open prisons should be encouraged more , so that prisoners will get chance to live openly and learn life lessons.

References:
  1. https://www.britannica.com/topic/prison/Types-of-prisons
  2. https://www.indiacode.nic.in/bitstream/123456789/2325/1/A1894-9.pdf
  3. https://www.drishtiias.com/daily-updates/daily-news-editorials/prison-reforms-and-way-forward
  4. https://www.indiacode.nic.in/
  5. https://www.britannica.com/topic/prison/Types-of-prisons
  6. https://www.indiacode.nic.in/bitstream/123456789/2325/1/A1894-9.pdf
  7. https://www.drishtiias.com/daily-updates/daily-news-editorials/prison-reforms-and-way-forward

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Rashi Goyal
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Authentication No: JU34356446079-11-0621

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