Are jails really the correction homes?
The main objective of a prison is to reform the criminals and bring them back to the mainstream society one day. But unfortunately, the death rates, rather, the suicide rates in Indian prisons have become so high that the objective is becoming hard to be achieved day by day.
The jail inmates face really tough challenges of life in the prisons.
- The jails are mostly overcrowded
- The basic medical needs are not met
- Diseases like TB, HIV go unreported
- Basic health and hygiene and proper sanitation are also lacking in most of the jails.
- Even proper hygienic food is not provided in most of the cases.
- The torture and ill treatment that the inmates go through is very high
- They have mostly no contact with the outside world
One of the major drawbacks in the administrative system is that the guidelines of the Human Rights Commission are only advisory in nature. Due to this reason, the Human Rights Commission cannot take strict actions in case the guidelines are violated.
- Only 1% of the Indian jails are properly monitored (according to Commonwealth Human rights Initiative study)
- According to national Crime Records Bureau 2014 report, there were a total of only 500 inspections across 136 jails in a state, which means less than 4 inspections per jail in an entire year.
- On an average there is one psychologist per 2000 jail inmates.
From the records, it is clear that the condition of the prisoners in our country is pathetic. They are also human beings and need to be given some basic amenities.
Here are some suggested possible measures that can be taken by various agencies to improve the conditions of the jail inmates.
First of all, the role of the government:
- There should be a proper legislation for maintaining jails and monitoring them. Along with legislations, it is important that proper implementation of these laws take place.
- An increase in the jail budget to build proper infrastructure, etc.
- Grant the Human Rights Commission with some judiciary powers
- Creation of a deposit by the prisoners themselves for enjoying special services like newspaper, pillow, tea, good food once a week.
- Some courses like MBA,BA,MA, etc can be offered
- Can also arrange some vocational training and computer classes
- The government should open separate jails for the under-trials.
Secondly, the role of the courts:
- To ensure proper and regular visits by the Magistrates and the Judges
- To go through the cases and arrange some legal aid for the poor
- Issue guidelines for prisons and monitor properly if they are followed. (for e.g.: installation of CCTVs in jails was ordered by the Supreme Court)
- Most of the cases get over but still the criminals are not freed due to their lack of ability to pay the fines. The court must see such pending cases and solve them.
- Arrange for bails for the under-trials those who are poor or have no one.
Thirdly, the role of some other institutions:
- The Human Rights Commission, the NGOs and other organizations can arrange for frequent visitors to listen to the grievances of the prisoners
- Can provide counseling to the inmates
- Can arrange for legal aids to the poor
- Can organize seminars, programmes on mental health, drug prevention, reduction of violence, etc.
- The NGOs can also raise funds and organize proper food at least once a week.
The right to a dignified life is enjoyed by every citizen of the country. This basic fundamental right should not be violated no matter who the person is. Guidelines are many but there is a lack of their implementation. If the administration is strong, most of the problems can be solved very easily.
References : The Hindu