• National Conference of Heads of Prisons of States and UTs on Prison Reforms

29 September 2016. The Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansraj Gangaram Ahir has called upon prison administration authorities to adopt the Prime Minister’s Skill Development programme to accelerate the Prison Reforms.

Inaugurating the 5th National Conference of Heads of Prisons of States and UTs on Prison Reforms, here today, he said 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.

Taking cue from certain prisons in Maharashtra which have initiated building residential colonies and open jails for inmates where they can live a normal life with their families while being under a sort of house arrest situation, he said 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.

A sum of Rs.1,800 crores has been provided in the current budget for Police Modernization including Prisons and this amount can be raised need based. Pointing out that the circulation of drugs, gang wars and other such menace brought a bad name to prison administration, he called for clean administration of prisons and said the conduct of Prison Authorities should improve in bringing about the reformation of inmates.

Dr. Meeran Borwankar, Director General, Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D), highlighted the overcrowding of prisons as a matter of grave concern impeding the Prisons Reforms process. There are around five lakh inmates in prisons across the country, of whom a vast majority of them, about 68 percent are undertrials and as many as 2.4 percent are women, she added.

Besides overcrowding, almost 35 percent vacancies in prison staff made it impractical to implement prison reforms. All of prison staff is tied down in prison security, administration and court procedures, leaving little or no time for inmates’ rehabilitation and reintegration. Dr. Borwankar also suggested that the name of Prisons should be changed to Correctional Administration or Correctional Homes to reflect its changing role from punitive action to a reformatory role.