Indian Prisons make news when there is a jail break, a prison riot or if any high profile personality is involved in it. But the reality is just otherwise.
The management of prison falls exclusively under the state government as per the 7th schedule of the constitution and is run by any senior IPS officer.
Indian prisons face many constraints such as overcrowding, under staffing and under funding, poor hygiene, sub-human living conditions violent clashes.
Major reason for overcrowding is high population and higher percentage of under trials in the prison. According to the statistics of National Crime Record Bureau; India’s prisons are overcrowded with an occupancy ratio of 14% more than its capacity. More than two third of inmates are under trials. With over a staggering 3.3 crores pending cases; study says that jails across the country will remain overcrowded in the absence of any effective systemic intervention.
According to the Fundamental Rights, under trials are presumed innocents till proven guilty. But they are often subjected to psychological and physical torture during detention and their condition is made inhuman while in prison.
There is a staff crunch of 36% for supervising the jails. In the absence of adequate prison staff, overcrowding of prisons leads to rampant violence and other criminal activities inside the jail.
Despite of these above problems, many innovative initiatives have been undertaken like Art of Living in Tihar Jail and other vocational training activities. But these are often outdated and have not been a major success due to mismanaged planning. Recent research illustrates that more than half of the prisoners face mental health issues and many of them end up in the prison itself. The state budget do not provide sufficient funding for the mental health services.
In the absence of structural changes, India’s prisons will continue to be hell for socio-economically disadvantaged under trials. A quick overhauling is actually required for the conditions of prisons.