Why India needs to address the issue of overcrowding in prisons?

Much has been debated about the need of prison reforms in the India. But very little has been moved in this direction even after reports submitted by many committees.

Why India needs to address overcrowding of its prisons?

  • The cardinal principle of the Indian judicial system is reformative not punitive. Hence the conditions in the prison must be conducive to stimulate reformation. The overcrowding of Indian prisons doesn’t provide room for reformation.
  • Prison statistics in India Report released by National Crime Records Bureau show the average occupancy rate of 114%. This rampant overcrowding of prisons is not a welcome sign.

Addressing overcrowding of prisons:

  • Prison statistics in India report shows that about 67% of total inmates were under trials. This underscores the need of judicial reforms. India must also look at reduce the number of under trail inmates in prison.
  • It’s not severity of the punishments but surety of punishments is what acts as a deterrence. Hence India can look at decriminalizing some of the crimes.
  • India can deal differently with proven non-violent offenders with provisions like community servicing and open prisons rather than conventional approach.
  • The overcrowding results in lack of basic amenities. This also violates human rights.
  • The overcrowding of prisons has also become a deterrent in ensuring the extradition requests and is often quoted by culprits in abroad as a defense to avoid extradition.

Improving prison conditions has no political leverage. Hence it has become most neglected phenomenon. India needs to take up prison reforms on priority and the first step would be addressing the overcrowding of prisons.


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