Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

[op-ed snap] Ripe for prison reform

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Need for prison reforms in India


Context

Committee for prison reforms

  1. The Supreme Court, late last month, formed a committee on prison reforms headed by former Supreme Court judge, Justice Amitava Roy
  2. It is to look into the entire gamut of reforms to the prison system
  3. Previously Justice A.N. Mulla committee and the Justice Krishna Iyer committee on women prisoners were also set up (both in the 1980s)

Need for prison reforms

  1. There are those who believe that if you keep improving prison conditions, there is likely to be an attendant impact on the incidence of crime
  2. This accounts for the reluctance of many criminal justice administrators to employ or enlarge non-prison alternatives such as community service
  3. The offshoot of all this is growing numbers of prisoners and the woeful incapacity of governments to build more and larger prisons

Prison overcrowding

  1. In India, the publication, Prison Statistics India, brought out by the National Crime Records Bureau will provide food for thought for the Justice Roy Committee
  2. In 2015, there were nearly 4.2 lakh inmates in 1,401 facilities, with an average occupancy rate of 114% in most
  3. About 67% of total inmates were undertrials, a commentary on the speed and efficiency of India’s criminal justice system

Reducing civil prisoners

  1. There is a popular view that in order to reduce prison populations, proven non-violent offenders could be dealt with differently
  2. White collar crime has assumed monstrous proportions but there is no reason why we should continue to lock up offenders instead of merely depriving them of their illegal gains
  3. Devising swift processes of attachment of properties and freezing of bank accounts are alternatives to a jail term
  4. In India, progress has been made in freezing ‘benami’ holdings of major offenders even though it may not be a 100% effective step of cleaning up
  5. But these are the first steps towards making economic crimes unaffordable and unattractive for the average offender

Way forward

  1. Incarceration in any form is uncivilised, especially when it is so long-drawn-out, and when the objective of criminal punishment should be one of reform rather than wreaking vengeance on a perpetrator of crime
  2. Work should be initiated for model prisons, where inmates are accommodated with due regard to their basic human needs and are handled with dignity
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