In fact, there is a lack of positive attitude towards reformist policies in our society and it adopts a retaliatory attitude towards the criminals. In such a situation, justice, their compensation, their restoration is also necessary with the crime victims, so that the government, society, administration, criminals and victims all together can create a new and healthy society.
The paper journey of human rights and prison reforms has a long history. If we talk about the human rights of prisoners in the context of a particular prison, then there are also many types of stratifications which can be understood deeply on the basis of age, caste, gender, religion, economic status and nature of crimes.
Movements for the rights of prisoners are termed as a socio-political movement, like the movements for civil rights and women’s rights, because before the 1960s, globally prisoners were considered merely slaves of the state. The judiciary then followed the principle of giving up in the name of prison administration and discipline.
In such a situation, the question arises whether there has been any control over the mental and physical torture of prisoners, unhealthy living conditions, forced labor, limited health facilities, poor and inadequate food, arbitrary restrictions on communication with the outside world, etc.? Has there been a reduction in torture in the name of discipline, and whether a prisoner is being treated as a person with human rights?
Answers to these questions are also necessary because on this basis we will be able to know whether we have become a civilized society or not. We have considered the purpose of punishment or not. We have come to know the essence of Gandhi’s statement that do not hate the sin, not the sinner. And further that while every saint has a history, every criminal also has a future.
Prison reform and human rights are synonymous with each other. In fact, it was in the year 1835 that Lord Macaulay talked about prison reform. After that, prison reform committees were formed in different phases and respectively, efforts were made to ensure that a minimum space in the prison, better food, conditions of daily wages to be paid by the prisoners, working hours etc. But due to the lack of satisfactory improvement in the conditions, again in the year 1919 it was said that it is the responsibility of the jail administration to prevent crimes and try to restore the prisoners.
Issues such as education of prisoners, vocational training, improvement of the conditions of women prisoners were raised in the Model Jail Manual composed by the Mulla Committee, Krishna Iyer Committee and Bureau of Police Records formed after independence. The judiciary has also advocated for identification and redressal of the problems of prisoners through various decisions.
In Sunil Batra’s case, it was held that prison reforms should be such that it would help in accommodating prisoners in the society by providing them with objective treatment of punitive detention. Prisoners should not be unnecessarily tied in iron chains and they should not be kept in solitary confinement. Being in jail does not mean that his other fundamental rights should be suppressed. Free legal aid, human dignity, opportunity of hearing, communication with the outside world, freedom of speech, right to privacy and the right to conduct according to his religion is available to a prisoner even inside the prison.
Needless to say that we do not listen to the atrocities of the British government, but we also do not hear that a woman serving a life sentence named Manjula Shetty was beaten to death by six women officers of that barrack. And there is a need for serious discussion on the human rights of children who remain in prison with their mothers till the age of six. One trembles at the thought of how cruel this can become with the future of those innocent children.
We have to remember that in a liberal democracy, we are not sent to prison because we are subjected to violent and barbaric acts, but because we are sent to repent of our mistake, introspect and return to society, in a way Parents can live like a citizen.
But along with all this it is also necessary to mention the decision given by the Supreme Court in Ramamurthy vs State of Karnataka, because in this case the Supreme Court not only talked about the various rights of the prisoners, but also enumerated their duties. As such it is the duty of every prisoner to obey the law and all the orders and behave according to the disciplinary rules framed in the jail.
Do your part in maintaining cleanliness inside the jail and also give importance and recognition to the dignity and right to life of other prisoners living with you. Do not tarnish anyone’s religious feelings, values and beliefs. And as far as possible, cooperate in the work of the Jail Superintendent.
It is also required to refer here in the judgment of Bhutan Mohan Patnaik v State of Andhra Pradesh, because in this judgment the Court held that no prisoner can complain as to why electric wires have been installed on the walls of the prison, because the prison Running away is not a fundamental right of a prisoner.
That is to say that the success of any subject can be ensured only when neutral evaluation of all its aspects is done without one-sided interpretation of that subject. Prison administration is also one such subject. Here the jail superintendent is under such tremendous pressure to ensure the presence of prisoners that he is forced to adopt the harshest of tactics. In such a situation, the most important thing is that the person who has been declared guilty, should also show acceptance of his punishment, because unless the mistake is not realized, the possibility of improvement will always be less.
Along with this another important issue is the increase in the budget fixed for the jail administration. Unless the percentage of the budget is increased, human facilities will also not be available properly. The recommendation to increase the daily wages of prisoners has also been made by several committees. These recommendations need to be implemented.
Along with this the ratio of prisoners to jail and the number of jail personnel