Indian jails continue to remain overcrowded

The main reason for the overcrowding in jails is due to the overwhelming number of undertrials who account for 3.08 lakh, which is up from 2.82 lakh in 2015 and 2.93 lakh in 2016. Photo/Pixabay

Indian jails continue to burst at the seams with the latest official statistics showing that 115 prisoners shared the space meant for 100 in 2017 compared to 114 the previous year.

However, for the second year in a row, the details of the social background of the prison inmates were not given like they were till 2015 when the statistics showed that two-thirds of the prisoners were Dalits and Other Backward Castes (OBCs) while around 19% were Muslims.

The 'Prison Statistics India 2015', released by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), showed that the number of prisoners in Indian jails crossed the 4.5 lakh mark by 2017-end compared to 4.19 lakh in 2015 and 4.33 lakh in 2016. There was a 7.4% increase compared to 2015.

The increase in occupancy rate to 115.1% from 114.4% in 2015 and 113.7% in 2016 could also be attributed to the decrease in the number of prisons from 1,401 in 2015 to 1,361 in 2017 as well as the rise in the number of inmates more than the capacity. The capacity of Indian prisons at the end of 2017 was 3.91 lakh as against 3.8 lakh in 2016 and 3.6 lakh in 2015.

 

  Actual capacity Number of inmates Occupancy rate
2015 3,66,781 4,19,623 114.4%
2016 3,80,876 4,33,003 113.7%
2017 3,91,574 4,50,696 115.1%

 

The main reason for the overcrowding in jails is due to the overwhelming number of undertrials, who account for 3.08 lakh, which is up from 2.82 lakh in 2015 and 2.93 lakh in 2016. The number of convicts in jails was 1.39 lakh.

 

  Undertrials  Convicts
2015 2,82,076 1,34,168
2016 2,93,058 1,35,683
2017 3,08,718 1,39,149

 

Fifteen states, including the big ones like Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Telangana as well as six Union Territories have an occupancy rate less than 100 per cent while states like Uttar Pradesh (165.04%), Chhattisgarh (157.23%) and Delhi (151.22%) kept the national occupancy rate above 100%.

UP topped the list with 96,383 prisoners followed by Bihar (40,186) and Madhya Pradesh (38,708). Karnataka, which had less than 100% occupancy in 2015, had 106.11% occupancy in 2017 with 14,549 prisoners sharing space for 13,711.

"In the last few decades, the prison population has increased tremendously which creates a number of challenges before prison administration like security and safety in prison, hygiene issues, overcrowding, etc. In recent years the Supreme Court has come down heavily on sub-human conditions existing in prisons especially on overcrowding in prisons," the report noted.

 

Indian jails in numbers 

In 2017 - 

Number of male prisoners – 4,31,823

Number of female prisoners – 18,873

 

Prison Population

Uttar Pradesh – 96,383

Bihar – 40,186

Madhya Pradesh – 38,708

Maharashtra – 33,699

Punjab – 24,048

West Bengal – 23,092

Karnataka – 14,549

 

Convicts

Murder – 70,170

Rape – 10,892

Attempt to murder – 8,111

Death Penalty – 347

Sentenced to death in 2017 - 121

Death sentence commuted to life imprisonment – 83

 

Statewise stats:

Maharashtra – 66

Uttar Pradesh – 49

West Bengal – 37

Madhya Pradesh – 27

Bihar – 23

Karnataka – 20

Kerala – 20

 

Duration of undertrials in prisons

Up to 3 months – 1.13 lakh

3-6 months – 68,224

6-12 months – 50,141

1-2 years – 37,893

2-3 years – 21,168

3-5 years – 13,143

Over five years – 4,876

 

Source: Prison Statistics India 2017/National Crime Records Bureau

 

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