Centre calls for prison reforms
The Centre on Thursday called for reforms in prisons saying circulation of drugs, gang wars and other such menace bring bad name to jail administration.
Inaugurating the fifth National Conference of Heads of Prisons of States and UTs on Prison Reforms, Union Minister of State for Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir said Rs 1,800 crore has been provided in the current budget for modernisation of police force, including prisons, and it can be raised if needed.
Asserting that circulation of drugs, gang wars and other such menace brought a bad name to prison administration, he called for clean administration and said the conduct of the authorities should improve to reform the inmates.
Ahir asked prison administrations to adopt the Prime Minister’s Skill Development programme to accelerate reforms.
Inmates can be imparted training in vocations like farming, sericulture, beekeeping, fisheries and animal husbandry so that they can be rehabilitated and reintegrated with the society, he said. The Union minister said some prisons in Maharashtra have initiated building residential colonies and open jails for the inmates where they can live a normal life with their families while being under a sort of house arrest situation.
Though the Supreme Court has issued guidelines making it easier for undertrials to obtain bail, there is slow progress in reducing the overcrowding of prisons, Ahir said.
Speaking on the occasion, Director General, Bureau of Police Research and Development Meeran Borwankar said overcrowding of prisons is a matter of grave concern.
There are around five lakh inmates in prisons across the country, of whom about 68 per cent are undertrials and as many as 2.4 percent are women, she said, adding almost 35 per cent vacancies in jail staff made it impractical to implement prison reforms.
All prison staff are tied down in prison security, administration and court procedures, leaving little or no time for inmates’ rehabilitation and reintegration, an official statement said.