The institution where a person convicted of criminal offence is detained by punishment is known as prison. Prison and Asylums Reform are the institutions who attempt to develop the prison conditions, establish a more effective penal system, or implement alternatives to restraint. Prisoners' daily movements and their compliance with routines are strictly enforced. The purpose of restrictions on inmate freedom within the institution is said to be the maintenance of security. Prisons are used as the primary punishment for criminal acts in the last few centuries. The State Government usually takes part in the modernization of the prison. The Ministry of Home Affairs also enlarges their hand to support the States in implementing the project of E- prisons project that intends to introduce efficiency in prison management through digitization.
The E-prisons project helps the Prisoner Information Management system (PIMS), which is developed by National Informatics Centre, to give a centralized approach for managing the prisoner information and generating records by maintaining the reports. The PIMS keep the record of necessary details of prisoner, his family details, biometrics, photographs, case history, medical information, etc. The availability of these details on an electronic platform is useful to track the status of prisoners and for the smooth functioning of the prison system. In order to examine the conditions of prisons and prisoners in the country, the government constitutes several panels and the committees.
Reasons for promoting Prison reforms:
- The punishment of life imprisonment deprives the right of liberty of that person.
- Imprisonment or detention affects the prisoner and his family.
- When the prisoner is the sole breadwinner, the whole family bears the financial loss.
- Some prisoners have serious health implications as they suffer from various diseases after entering prison.
- All the prisons are overcrowded.
Major issues of Prisons:
The share of the prisoners who are awaiting trails is constantly increasing due to the pendency of cases, which leads to overcrowding, whereas it is seen that crowding leads to unsatisfactory living conditions. Prisoners are subjected to inhuman physical and psychological torture, sexual abuse, extortion by prison staff, custodial deaths due to extreme pain.
Measures initiated by Government
1. Modernization of prisons Scheme: The scheme for modernization of prisons was launched to improve the conditions of the detention. It includes the construction of new jails, repair, and renovation of jails, improvement in sanitation and water supply, etc.
2. National Legal Services Authority: They have launched a web application recently to facilitate the under trial prisoners with free legal services. The objective of the above application is to make the legal services system more transparent and useful.
3. Draft National Policy for Prison Reforms: It includes an amendment in the constitution to incorporate principles of prison management along with the enactment of uniform and comprehensive law on matters relating to prisons.
Measures to be initiated by the Government:
- The government should enact the comprehensive and uniform law on prison reforms.
- A Department of Correctional Services and prisons.
- The state shall provide community service, forfeiture of property, payment of compensation to victims, as an alternative to prisons.
- The living condition shall be improved in every prison and allied institution.
- The issue of overcrowded jails requires immediate attention. Every possible effort shall be made to improve the conditions of prison that includes better sanitation and hygiene, adequate food and clothing.
- Appropriate rehabilitation and Correctional treatment shall be made to reform offenders.
- Initiatives shall be taken to grant vocational training to prisoners and ensure rehabilitation and social formation after release.
- The government must take the initiative to improve the conditions of under-trial prisoners, which can be achieved by speeding of the trial procedure, simplification of the bail procedure, and providing effective legal aid.
- It is also essential to address the issue of inadequate prison management by recruiting more prison staff, imparting proper training and undertaking modernization of prisons.
- Issues related to custodial violence and sexual abuse should be dealt with effective monitoring and severe punishments of those involved in such violence.
- The concept of a correctional facility such as an open prison should be encouraged