New Delhi [India], Sept.29 : Union Minister of State for Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir on Thursday called upon prison administration authorities to adopt Prime Minister Narendra Modi's skill development programme to accelerate prison reforms.
Inaugurating the Fifth National Conference of Heads of Prisons of States and UTs on Prison Reforms, here, Shri Ahir said inmates can be imparted training in vocations like farming, sericulture, beekeeping, fisheries and animal husbandry so that they can be rehabilitated and reintegrated with the society.
He said that certain prisons in Maharashtra have initiated building residential colonies and open jails for inmates where they can live a normal life with their families while being under a sort of house arrest situation.
The Supreme Court has issued guidelines making it easier for undertrials to obtain bail, there is slow progress in reducing the overcrowding of prisons, he added.
Ahir said a sum of Rs.1,800 crores has been provided in the current budget for police modernization, including prisons and this amount can be raised need based.
Pointing out that the circulation of drugs, gang wars and other such menace brought a bad name to prison administration, Ahir called for clean administration of prisons and said the conduct of prison authorities should improve in bringing about the reformation of inmates.
Dr. Meeran Borwankar, Director General, Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR and D), highlighted the overcrowding of prisons as a matter of grave concern impeding the prison reform process.
There are around five lakh inmates in prisons across the country, of whom a vast majority of them, about 68 percent are under-trials and as many as 2.4 percent are women, she added.
Besides overcrowding, almost 35 percent vacancies in prison staff made it impractical to implement prison reforms.
All of prison staff is tied down in prison security, administration and court procedures, leaving little or no time for inmates' rehabilitation and reintegration.
Dr. Borwankar also suggested that the name of prisons should be changed to correctional administration or correctional homes to reflect its changing role from punitive action to a reformatory role.
The two-day conference is a platform to the stakeholders viz. the correctional administrators in states/UTs to exchange ideas and learn from each other's experience.
The conference is being attended by senior officers heading prison departments of states and Union Territories.
For the first time, the Superintendents of Jails from central jails and district jails have also been invited to share their views and experiences.
Representatives from leading universities, NGOs, and students of law and criminology departments are also attending the conference for the first time.