Panel to study plight of children growing inside prisons

• A panel headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court will be formed to tackle the issue of children living in prisons merely because their mothers are convicts.

• A Bench has directed the government to form a panel headed by a former apex court judge, assisted by two or three Central government officers, to study the problems of mothers and children living inside prisons.

• The order came after the Supreme Court’s amicus curiae and advocate Gaurav Agarwal submitted a report showing that there were 18 jails exclusively for women. Also, there are separate areas for women in other jails, but there is a huge lack of space for women inmates. He said these jails were not modelled to house women inmates, especially those with minor children staying with them.

• The committee would also look into what reforms could be introduced within the prison walls.

• The court said the Centre should issue a notification on the setting up of the committee, highlighting the importance of prison reforms and the fundamental right to life and dignity of the prisoners.

• The court ordered training manuals to be circulated to the Director General of Prisons and Secretaries of Prison Department in each State Government/UT and also to three training institutes, that is, Institute of Corrections Administration, Chandigarh; Regional Institute of Correctional Administration, Kolkata; and Academy of Prison and Correctional Administration, Vellore.

• The court advised the Centre that criminals sentenced to imprisonment for six months or a year should be allocated social service duties rather than be sent to prison to further choke the already overflowing prisons.

• 240 jails across the country are housing inmates 150% above their normal capacity.

• Worse is the prison staff-prisoner ratio. Of about 77,000 sanctioned posts, 24,500 lie vacant. Tamil Nadu and UP are some of the worst cases in prison staff-inmate ratio. Only about 5000 prison staff monitor over 92,000 inmates in UP. Tamil Nadu has about 4000 prison staffers to monitor 13,000 prisoners.

• The court also observed that 60% of undertrial prisoners who languish behind bard need not actually be arrested.

Share article