Prison Reform Measures in India

An ideal prison must provide for adequate work, vocational training, basic educational, medical and recreational facilities for inmates. The prison management should be made functional, effective and goal-oriented so as to prove itself as an effective. agency of the criminal justice administration. The ultimate object of prison institution should be to reform the offender rather than to torture him. As pointed out by Dr. Sethna, prisons should be moral hospitals or place of re-education, but they should not be so comfortable as to be attractive (as in western countries)

Criminal behaviour is a personality maladjustment and thus a long-range psychotherapy ‘behaviour modification’ is needed. A careful individualized study, treatment and training of offenders, using the techniques of medicine, psychiatry etc. providing education, vocational guidance and recreation facilities are thus the essential components, of a rehabilitation programme for a criminal and juvenile delinquent. Various such measures are discussed below-

i)  Classification of offenders – It is necessary for the individualized treatment. Classification may may be done at the two stages: firstly at the time of determining which particular type of prison the offender is to be sent, and, secondly within a given prison the offenders are classified through medical, psychological examinations, etc. In India, the prisoners are classified on the basis of age, sex, metal health, nature of offence, and whether a casual or habitual (professional or non-professional) offender.

In the modern context, social defence, namely, the protection of society from criminals is the prime object of punishment, while classification of prisoners for treatment is the method of it. The classification of offenders further helps to prevent the interning 10g of young and first offenders with the hardened criminals.

ii)  Prison education- It should have the following components-

(a) Fundamental academic education for illiterate prisoners to help them in everyday life.

(b) Vocational education, designed to give training for an occupation.,

(c) Health education, designed to teach the fundamentals of personal and community health.

(d) Socio-cultural and religious education (for intellectual or aesthetic satisfaction).

iii)  Prison labour and industry:- These serves as a means to achieve certain skills in the which, apart from disciplining him, shall be helpful to him in finding some vocation after release. Also, prisoners can earn wages while in prison. However, often prisoners are not interested in learning the trade either due to the lack of aptitude or to its irrelevance after release. Even the prison administration shows a lukewarm attitude towards such programmes.

iv)  After-care programs:– A prisoner often  finds it difficult to adjust to the outside world after release. After-care has two connotations. In its narrower sense, it is like probation i.e. released person but under the care of a probation officer performing the role of a social worker. In its wider sense, it implies all efforts to enable the prisoner to overcome various social, psychological and economic problems after his release. After-care is the process which carries him from the restricted environment of the prison to the satisfactory rehabilitation in the society.

The help (post-release assistance) generally offered in India relates to family welfare, financial assistance, employment and basic necessities (food, shelter and clothing). However, providing employment to exprisoners is the most difficult task. ‘Prisoner-aid-society’ are hostels which look after the prisoners after their release (half-way homes, link between prison and community). However, such hostels are very few, also criminals remain in them at their will. In U.P., Crime Prevention Society is carrying on the after-care work.

v)  Women Prisoners:- They should be treated more generously and allowed to meet their children frequently. This will keep them mentally fit -arid respond favourably to me treatment methods. A liberal correctional and educational programme seems necessary in case of women delinquents because they need lesser control and custody due to their feminine temperament. Separate and exclusive prisons for them with prison staff comprising of women only is the foremost necessity (which is lacking in India).

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