Humanizing Prison Life In India

It is clear that increasing the gravity of punishment doesn’t help in controlling or reducing the crime as crime rate has increased with time even after all the increase in the intensity of punishment that has been increased with time.

This continuous repulsion and lack of support for existing attempts to humanize prisoners is the most inhuman thing that has been prevailing since long back. One of the ways to reform a criminal or a criminal mind is to use an already acquitted person who have highly changed and reformed as a good human to help and hit the minds of prisoners present in the jails by holding certain sessions or interactions on a personal level. No one can understand a criminal mind better than another criminal.

This can be understood easily by the example of Deepika Padukone who went through depression and is now helping those who are going through it. What can help in stabilizing or lowering the crimes is the only sole solution of “humanizing them” , building sensitiveness and humanity inside them. For this they need to be provided with that kind of environment and treatment as a human. Shifting the focus from “static institution” (which treats & isolates prisoner, brutal punishments) to the “active humanizer” (which considers prisoners as humans and uses punishments along with keeping other human rights in minds).

History connected

Since the ages till now we evolved our punishment techniques. From retributive lex talionis to imprisonments.

Earlier it used to be either confinement till death, death or monetary compensation or brutal punishments like mutilation etc. but with time imprisonment was thought as a better option to reform a criminal rather than just killing him. Reformation of the offender was regarded as an aim of the prison sentence. Rehabilitation was thought of as the main objective of the imprisonment, and now when these heavy words like imprisonment, reformation, rehabilitation etc. were used they were meant to introduce some human factors inside jails to make a criminal deviate from his path of crime to path of public good, but we have done is just took in the words and punishments but no human treatment is still provided in many of the non-famous jails where there is less, controllable or no surveillance. And for stopping this inhuman treatment and providing humanized environment starting from a very grass root level we need to maintain an inter-departmental interaction with good tracking and records.

Education is the biggest teacher for good and bad if especially criminal minds are seen. Education can help in covering up for not less than 50-60 % of crimes. We need to provide linkage between education standard and criminality. To deflect prisoners from deviant paths their hobbies, and minds need to be engaged in productive activities and enhancing their self-confidence towards a thinking which makes them feel they can live an organized life too. Corrective actions are needed to be taught.

Most importantly it takes away from him the; right of self-determination and he is at the mercy of prison officials, who regulate the minutest details of his life. State is under a constitutional obligation to organize prison system in such a manner that the imprisonment does not result in further degeneration of a prisoner. It is clearly established that a court sentence does not deprive the prisoner of his fundamental rights. He retains all his rights except those which are inconsistent with his incarceration. ( A prison can function as a correctional institution, bringing about the reformation and rehabilitation of the offender by honoring his basic human dignity Thus, the prison system should aim at ensuring the return of an offender to society as not only willing but also able to lead a well-adjusted and self-supporting life. In this regard, the humanization of prisons assumes a greater significance. Humanization of prisons is a system, which seeks to protect the basic human dignity of every prisoner. Further it aims to create humane conditions in a prison and secures social re-education of the prisoner for the purpose of realigning and re-organizing his life for smooth resettlement in society.

Humanization emphasizes that the prison should be a center of correctional treatment, where major emphasis shall be given on the re-education and reformation of offender. The impact of institutional environment and treatment shall aim at producing constructive changes in the offender, as would be having profound and lasting effect on his habits, attitudes, approaches and on his total value schemes of life. Unfortunately, realities in Indian prisons, as reported by the All India Committee on Jail Reforms (1980-83) present a totally unsatisfactory picture. According to the Committee most of the prisons are overcrowded and majority of persons lodged in prisons consisted of people belonging to the under privileged sections of the society. A large number of persons coming to prisons consist of first offenders involved in technical or minor violations of law. More than half of the total prison population in the country consists of inmates waiting or standing trials or who have failed to furnish necessary security to secure bail, due to their poverty. The Committee was shocked to find all categories of inmates being huddled together in most of the prisons. Young offenders were confined in prisons with adults and were exposed to the degenerative impact of prison atmospheres.

The institution of prison visitors has become almost defunct in most of the states and union territories. Recently, the National Human Rights Commission has come out with similar observations. The Commission has noted the increase in the number of custodial deaths. The absence of human rights orientation in prison officials. Thus, it could be summed up in the words of the Committee of 1980-83 that ‘the existing prison organization in the country is in disarray’ and 'does not conform to the required standards of a correctional department’.

The three links that form the chain of prison system are the prison laws, the judiciary and the prison administration. The Indian prison laws are archaic and there is no uniformity in them in various states. The judiciary at times finds itself helpless in the absence of 'executive sword, and the prison personnel lack human rights orientation. For achieving an effective humanization of prisons each link in the chain needs to remolded, reoriented on the basis of humanistic values.

03 December 2019
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