Life Of Prisoners In Indian Jail
As said by Mahatma Gandhi , “ Hate the crime and not the criminal ”.
In the declaration of Independence , Jefferson famously wrote “We hold these truths to be self – evident , that all men are created equal , that they are endowed by their creator with certain rights unalienable rights , that among these are Life , Liberty and the pursuit of happiness ”. but if any person doesn’t comply with the ethics of the society then that person is deprived of these rights with proper punishment . The purpose of imprisonment is to confine the person to dissociate him from others and for preventing further crimes and at the same time restraint him from spreading his criminality and also make him a good person who knows the clear difference between what behaviors are “right” or “wrong” for the society, but if a person commits any crime , it does not mean that by committing a crime , he ceases to be a human being and that he can be deprived of those aspects of life which constitutes human dignity. This paper analyzes the problems faced by prisoners in India , various challenges faced by Indian prison system and also analyze whether the constitutional rights of an ordinary citizens which are extended to the prisoners are full – fledged in all aspects , except those that are to be necessarily denied because of the condition of imprisonment.
KEY WORDS – Imprisonment , Dissociate , Prisoners , Crime , Human Dignity
As per the Prison Statistics India (PSI) 2018 report; 1,845 inmates died in custody in 2018, the highest in Indian prisons in the last 20 years. In 2018, the percentage of under trial prisoners in India was almost 70% of the total number of those imprisoned. The number of under trial have increased by 25.4% in the last ten years. In 2018, the average occupancy rate of prisons was 117.6%. However, these numbers vary from state to state.
The vulnerable groups suffer the most. In 2018, there were 19,242 women prisoners, 5,168 foreign national prisoners (apart from those confined in detention centers); and 6,623 suffering from mental illness. The report did not include any statistics about transgender prisoners and disabled persons. Further, the prison administration is overburdened with a 30% staff shortage. The inmate to medical staff ratio is 243:1. This is a cause of the high number of custodial deaths in 2018.
The justice system does not consider the circumstances and what goes inside the mind of a person who commits a crime. Often, the punishments given are much harsher than the crime committed. When a person is incarcerated, they are made to live in the prison with other criminals, and even if they have an innocent mind going in, their mentality and way of thinking changes after being in the company of criminals. When they comes out, they are already a criminal in the eyes of the society. They find hard to earn a living and they have to regularly report to the authorities, prisoners are confined to a restricted space . Prolonged stay in the prison may lead to intense depression , which can persist even after their release . Missing loved ones prisoners feel loneliness as they are isolated from their family and loved ones .Their history makes their life difficult and if any crime takes place in their surroundings; they are the first to be questioned or thrown inside the prison by the police.
Although worst situation of imprisonment can lead to delusions , paranoia , depression , suicidal tendencies , as well as increased levels of hostility , our prison facilities often lack means to provide adequate psychological support . Even after being released , it can be very difficult to cope with trauma experienced while behind bars as well as readjusting to society.
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
1 – Healthcare for prisoners
2 – The lack of legal aid
3 – The problem of overcrowding in prisons
4 – Finding Employment
5 – Treatment Of Prisoners
Let’s now try to elaborate the following points –
Healthcare for prisoners
The Supreme Court in its landmark judgment of Parmanand Katara Vs Union of India ( 1989 AIR 2039) ruled that the state has an obligation to preserve life whether he is an innocent person or a criminal liable to punishment under the law . The Supreme Court has held that the Eight Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment requires the government to provide healthcare to the prisoners . Heath care in prisons is one of the neglected heath areas in our country . Majority of prisoners in India are poor , uneducated , belonging to marginalized section of the society who has limited knowledge about their health and lifestyle practices . While the lack of awareness about the health of prisoners is a major human rights concern , the need to manage illness in jails as part of bigger public health agenda and as part of primary health care is a concept that has yet to catch on in India. As a result they constitute a distinct and vulnerable health population that requires special privileges. The India Justice Report 2019 pointed out that inmates have a low life expectancy and suffer from numerous infectious diseases .
The Lack Of Legal Aid
Article 39A of Constitution of India imposes a duty on States to secure that operation of legal system promotes justice on a basis of the equal opportunity and it makes it mandatory, in particular, to provide free legal aid by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way to ensure that the opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities. The object of this provision is to promote equality in the process of justice. Though Art.39A is a directive principle but it is enforceable under the Legal Service Authority Act,1987. Although the legal aid is fundamental right given to every citizen but in reality the prisoners are deprived of by it when they are behind the bars because of unavailability of the legal assistance.
The Problem Of Overcrowding In Prisons
Indian prisons have been housing more inmates than their capacity for decades now and this problem of overcrowded prisons is only getting worse, according to a report on prison statistics for 2019 released by the National Crime Records Bureau . As on 31 December, 2019, there were 4,78,600 inmates lodged in different prisons in India while they had a collective capacity to house only about 4,03,700 inmates. Prisons in Delhi were the most overcrowded among all states and union territories – there were about 17,500 prisoners lodged in jails with a collective capacity of about 10,000, which is a prison overcrowding rate of 175%. Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand followed next in overcrowding at 168% and 159% respectively.
The rise of overcrowding has resulted in many issues such as poor healthcare , increased gang activity within the prisons . Increase in individual mental health issues or spread of various infections . Overcrowded prisons are more of a concern at present as the Covid-19 infection continues to spread in the country .
Once you are back from prison you are outcast by the society. Nobody wants to do anything with you . Most individuals realize from prison held some type of job prior to incarceration and want legal , stable employment upon release . Some criminal justice research suggests that finding an maintaining a legitimate job can reduce former prisoners chance of reoffending , and the higher the wage , the less likely it is that individuals will return to crime.
However , most former prisoners experience difficulty finding a job after release , (70%) felt that their criminal record had affected their job search . During the time spend in prison , many loose work skills and are given little opportunity to gain useful work experience . Moreover , the availability of job training programs in prison has declined in recent years .
Regarding private job , it’s depend on mercy or desire of your employer whether he would like to retain you again or not but in case of government job you are deemed to be suspended once you are lockup in jail for more then 48 hours . No convicted person be retained in government job .
Treatment Of Prisoners
The prisoners are sent to prison “not for punishment but as punishment.” But unfortunately prisoners are treated as it they have been sent to prison not only as punishment but even for punishment . The process of treatment should being right from the time of admission of the inmate in prison .A newly admitted inmate faces a number of problems of adjustment with new environment. Prisons have become a place of torture where they not only suffers physical and sexual abuse but are denied basic necessities and human rights to which every citizen is entitled . The police which is the civil force of a state use torture to obtain information or confession from the prisoners .
The researcher has used the doctrinal method for their research paper mostly the help is taken from various internet sites , public opinions , prisoners interviews which are available on internet .
Provide Legal Aid
The first thing that will help many inmates is effective legal aid . Article 39A of Constitution of India imposes a duty on States to secure that operation of legal system promotes justice on a basis of the equal opportunity and it makes it mandatory, in particular, to provide free legal aid by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way to ensure that the opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities. The object of this provision is to promote equality in the process of justice. Though Art.39A is a directive principle but it is enforceable under the Legal Service Authority Act,1987. Reduce Overcrowding
Overcrowding is one of the basic problems of most of the prisons so government should construct a greater number of prisons .
When a person is incarcerated, they are made to live in the prison with other criminals, and even if they have an innocent mind going in, their mentality and way of thinking changes after being in the company of criminals. So keep prisoners in a different prison which is on the basis of crimes , punishments , charges so that helps in reducing crime rates .
Provide basic sanitation , personal hygiene for their better health care .
Education opportunities in prison are key to reducing crime , because of this prisoners will not loose their work skills and poor and illiterate prisoners will also become educated through which they will get jobs easily after release . Education can be a gateway to social and economic mobility . Education will enhance skill development of inmates which leads to better chance of employment.
Reduce inmate idleness by increasing opportunities for exercise , sports , cultural programs and religious activities, which may decrease the stress or tension of prisoners .Prison staff need a lot more training
It is of paramount importance that the prison staff is trained in how to treat and deal with inmates .
Basic infrastructure should be improved
Prisons need to upgrade their infrastructure . There is overcrowding. There need to be bigger prisons . There should be more space .
Use Volunteers Increase the involvement of volunteers , NGO’s to provide meaningful programs for prisoners .
Provide volunteer lawyers to help inmates prepare for bail hearings and thus reduce the amount of time they may have to wait for their cases to be heard .
If any person doesn’t comply with the ethics of the society then that person is deprived of these rights with proper punishment . The purpose of imprisonment is to confine the person to dissociate him from others and for preventing further crimes and at the same time restraint him from spreading his criminality and also make him a good person who knows the clear difference between what behaviors are “right” or “wrong” for the society, but if a person commits any crime , it does not mean that by committing a crime , he ceases to be a human being and that he can be deprived of those aspects of life which constitutes human dignity. They can have all those rights which an individual of society holds but with some reasonable restrictions .The Supreme Court had interpreted in wider sense on prisoners right and has taken corrective measures to protect the human rights of the prisoners . The Supreme Court provides guidelines to legislature and executive . It is of paramount importance that the prison staff , police authority and other authority are trained in how to treat and deal with inmates and take care the rights of prisoners in a strict manner .