Centre asks States to use tracking devices on prison inmates released on parole

The suggestion is part of Model Prisons and Correctional Services Act, 2023 that was circulated to all States in May

November 13, 2023 08:03 pm | Updated November 14, 2023 07:11 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Representational file image.

Representational file image. | Photo Credit: V.V. Krishnan

The Union Home Ministry has said States may use tracking devices on prison inmates when they are released on parole. It also called for segregation of hardened criminals from other category of criminals. 

“The State may use electronic monitoring technology on prisoners under temporary release / leave from prison, by making use of inmate tracking devices,” the suggestion which is part of the Model Prisons and Correctional Services Act, 2023 that was circulated to all States in May said. On Monday, a copy of the Act was for the first time published on the Ministry’s website.

“Prisoners may be granted prison leave on the condition of their willingness to wear electronic tracking devices for monitoring the movement and activities of such prisoners. Any violation by the prisoner will attract cancellation of prison leave, in addition to disqualification from any prison leave being granted in future, as may be prescribed under the rules,” the Act said. 

Earlier this month, the Jammu and Kashmir police introduced GPS tracker anklet for monitoring a terror accused out on bail. 

The Ministry said that the administration and management of prisons was till now regulated by two pre-Independence Acts namely, The Prisons Act 1894 and The Prisoners Act 1900. With the passage of time, many of the provisions of these colonial Acts were found to be outdated and obsolete. It said prisons is a State subject as per the constitutional provisions, and bringing any new legislative instrument in this regard is now in the jurisdiction of the State governments. It said that mindful of the legal position and the significance of prisons in the criminal justice system, the Home Ministry has finalised a comprehensive Act to replace the obsolete and colonial legislation.

Advanced infra

The Act said that appropriate and advanced security infrastructure and procedures shall be in place for the high-risk prisoner ward in all central and district prisons. “Such prisons shall also have appropriate provisions for an independent court complex for holding court hearings/trials,” the model Act says. 

The Act said the States shall ensure integration and embedding of appropriate technology for the effective management and superintendence of prisons and for the safety and security of prisons and the inmates, which may include biometrics, CCTV system, scanning and detection devices, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), video conference facilities, etc. in every prison for prisoners to attend court hearings/trials and to provide for seamless biometric access control system for movement of inmates.

It also asks the States to digitise the entire prison administration and integrate the database with the Interoperable Criminal Justice System. 

The Act said the States should use advanced cellular jamming and cellular detection solutions in the jails to prohibit unauthorised use of cellphones by the inmates and prescribes three year-imprisonment for usage of phones inside jails. 

It calls for a classification and security assessment committee that may segregate the prisoners according to age, gender, length of sentence, safety and security requirements, physical and mental health needs, correctional needs, repeat offenders etc, as may be prescribed under the rules.

Separate cells

“The prisoners classified into different categories may be lodged in separate barracks/enclosures/cells with a view to protect other prisoners from negative influence and radicalised thought process of the hardened/habitual/high risk prisoners,” the Act said. It also asked for segregation of male, female and transgender people.

It said the prisoners may be further segregated and lodged separately under other sub-categories such as drug addicts and alcoholic offenders, first time offenders, foreign prisoners, old and infirm prisoners (65+ years); those suffering from infectious or chronic diseases; mental illness; prisoners sentenced to death; high risk prisoners; women inmates with children and young offenders.

It said dangerous and high-risk prisoners should be accommodated in special cells or high security prisons. High-risk prisoners, hardened criminals and habitual offenders should not be entitled for parole, furlough, or any kind of prison leave in the normal course.

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