: Although nearly half of the 4,200 inmates of Parappana Agrahara central prison suffer from mental stress, there is no psychiatrist or counsellor to attend to them. The jail hospital had a lone psychiatrist, P. Rajani, till 2010. However, with no supporting staff, she found the job difficult and got herself a transfer.
After she left, the jail hospital has been managed by an ENT specialist and a general physician, who are on deputation from the Health Department, besides a retired government doctor, who is on contract.
The lack of psychiatric treatment assumes importance in the context of the escape (and subsequent arrest) of convicted serial rapist Jaishankar, who reportedly exhibited tendencies of a psychopath.
C.R. Chandrashekar, former professor of psychiatry at NIMHANS, said the Bangalore Central Prison needs at least three psychiatrists. But no psychiatrist will volunteer to work there because of the discouraging environment, work pressure and monotony of handling the same set of patients every day. Moreover, there is a shortage of psychiatrists in government service, he said.
“So the usual practice is to send inmates needing psychiatric treatment to NIMHANS, where they are admitted in the prisons ward. They are sent back to the jail after counselling and treatment. But this does not help, as people with deviant behaviour require continuous counselling and treatment,” Dr. Chandrashekar said.
K.V. Gagandeep, Additional Director-General of Police (Prisons), admitted that the jail hospital needs at least five more doctors, including two psychiatrists. He said they have been repeatedly asking the Health Department to depute doctors. “We have written to them several times and recently even had a meeting with the Health Minister and Commissioner. They have promised additional doctors,” he said.
He said psychiatrists attached to voluntary organisations and NGOs visit the prison sometimes to attend to the inmates.
Dr. Rajani, who is now working at the District Hospital in Ramanagaram, said when she was posted at the jail hospital there were more than 300 inmates who required psychiatric treatment. “We had people with violent behaviour, personality disorder (who are difficult to handle as they are ruthless and arrogant), depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, victims of substance abuse and related ailments. Counselling is a must to reform and rehabilitate such persons. But there was neither a counsellor nor any supporting staff,” she said.
Pointing out that there are several cases wherein people had reformed after they underwent counselling, Dr. Rajani said the purpose of counselling was to give an insight into what went wrong and how not to repeat it.
Bitter childhood experiences, marital discord, impulsive behaviour because of the environment in which they are brought up, lack of family bonding and property disputes among others are reasons for people committing crimes, she said.
Dr. Chandrashekar said it was important for people to bring up their children with love and affection. “Parents and guardians should be careful about the company in which their children grow up. This is most important to ensure that they do not end up committing crimes,” he added.