08 Sep Amitava Roy Committee report on prison reforms
This article covers “Daily Current Affairs,” and the Topic details “ Amitava Roy Committee report on prison reforms”. The Topic, “ Amitava Roy Committee report on prison reforms”, has relevance in the Governance section of the UPSC CSE exam.
Key observations and suggestions?
GS 2: Governance
What is the need for reforms?
Measures taken in India?
Why in the news:
The Supreme Court has requested input from both the central government and the individual states regarding the Justice Amitava Roy Committee’s report.
Key observations and suggestions:
The key observations and suggestions arising from the Justice Amitava Roy Committee report on prison reforms in India can be summarised as follows:
- Female inmates encounter inadequate access to fundamental amenities, including healthcare, legal aid, employment prospects, and recreational facilities.
- Many women prisoners are accommodated within larger male-dominated prison complexes, resulting in concerns related to privacy, safety, and limited access to crucial services.
Sanitary Napkin Provision:
- In India, fewer than 40% of prisons offer sanitary napkins to female inmates, neglecting their basic hygiene needs. This deficiency can have adverse health repercussions and compromise the dignity of women in custody.
Facilities for Children:
- Only a handful of states and union territories (such as Goa, Delhi, and Puducherry) permit female prisoners to interact with their children without physical barriers like bars or glass partitions. Such barriers impede vital family connections, which are essential for the well-being of both mothers and their children.
- A significant concern is that 75% of female wards in Indian prisons share common facilities and kitchens with male wards. This shared arrangement can potentially result in safety and privacy issues for female inmates, particularly considering the gender dynamics within prison environments.
Undertrial and Convict Housing:
- Irrespective of their legal status (whether undertrials or convicts), female prisoners are frequently housed in the same wards and barracks. This lack of differentiation based on legal status can affect female inmates’ prospects for rehabilitation and reintegration.
- The report emphasizes the absence of gender-specific training for prison staff, including matrons responsible for overseeing female inmates. This training gap extends to areas like conducting searches, which should be done with sensitivity and respect for the dignity of female prisoners.
- In India, female inmates can file complaints against jail staff for abuse or harassment in only 13 states and 2 Union Territories. This limited access to justice within the prison system can leave female inmates vulnerable to abuse without proper avenues for redress.
Medical and Psychiatric Care:
- Many Indian prisons lack separate medical and psychiatric facilities for female inmates. This deficiency presents substantial challenges in addressing the unique health needs of female prisoners, including those related to pregnancy and mental health.
Telemedicine and Vocational Training:
- To address these issues, the report recommends introducing telemedicine facilities for remote diagnosis and virtual consultations, strengthening vocational training and educational programs, and reducing the reliance on the imprisonment for minor offenses. Instead, it suggests implementing community service initiatives and comprehensive counselling for inmates with psychological disorders.
- Overcrowding in Indian prisons has long been a pressing concern, resulting in substandard living conditions, heightened inmate tension, and difficulties delivering essential services and rehabilitation programs.
What is the need for reforms:
Protection of Human Rights:
- Dignity: Prison reform safeguards the basic human dignity of individuals, including those convicted of crimes, by preventing cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment in correctional facilities.
- Access to Necessities: It ensures that inmates have access to fundamental necessities like food, clean water, proper healthcare, and sanitary conditions.
- Protection from Torture: Reform efforts aim to prevent any form of physical or psychological abuse within prisons, protecting inmates’ physical and mental well-being.
- Skill Development: Prison reform focuses on providing inmates with the skills and knowledge they need to reintegrate into society successfully. This involves vocational training and mental health support.
- Reduced Recidivism: Successful rehabilitation programs reduce the likelihood of inmates returning to criminal activities, enhancing public safety and reducing the burden on the criminal justice system.
Fairness and Justice:
- Equality: Prison reform ensures that all individuals, regardless of background or socioeconomic status, are treated fairly and equally within the criminal justice system.
- Due Process: It upholds principles of due process, including the right to a fair trial, access to legal representation, and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
- Living Conditions: Overcrowded prisons often lead to inadequate living conditions and overcrowded cells. The reform aims to reduce overcrowding to ensure healthier and safer inmate environments.
- Alternative Sentencing: Efforts are made to promote alternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders, reducing strain on prison resources and facilities.
- Long-Term Savings: While initial costs may be associated with implementing rehabilitation and reintegration programs, these initiatives are often cost-effective in the long run. By reducing recidivism and facilitating successful reintegration into society, they can lower the financial burden on the criminal justice system and social services.
Measures taken in India:
National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB):
- Data Collection: The NCRB plays a crucial role in collecting and maintaining data related to prisons and inmates in India. This data provides valuable insights into prison conditions, demographics, and trends.
- Informed Decision-Making: By analysing this data, policymakers and authorities can make more informed decisions regarding prison management, resource allocation, and reform initiatives.
- Access to Justice: Legal aid programs ensure inmates have access to legal representation, which is essential for a fair trial and for protecting their legal rights.
- Fair Proceedings: These programs help inmates understand their rights and effectively present their cases, contributing to a more equitable criminal justice system.
- Skill Development: Vocational training programs in some Indian prisons equip inmates with practical skills, improving their employability upon release.
- Rehabilitation: These programs align with the rehabilitation aspect of prison reform, helping inmates build better futures and reducing the likelihood of recidivism.
Q.1 In which of the following list of Schedule 7 the Subject of prisons is mentioned?
(a) Union List
(b) State List
(c) Concurrent list
(d) None of the above
Q.2 Justice Amitav Roy’s Report is related to:
(a) Prison Reforms
(b) Privacy Law
(c) Sedition Law
(d) Performance of NITI Ayog
Q.3 Analyze the significance of prison reforms in upholding human rights and promoting rehabilitation within the criminal justice system.