Parliamentary panel recommends GPS trackers to reduce overcrowding in prisons

The panel noted that overcrowding and delayed justice has led to a series of consequences for both the prisoners and the criminal justice system 

September 22, 2023 06:00 am | Updated 06:00 am IST - NEW DELHI

For representation.

For representation. | Photo Credit: The Hindu

A parliamentary panel has recommended ankle trackers or bracelets on prison inmates to reduce overcrowding in prisons.

The parliamentary committee on home affairs that presented its report on Thursday said that technology can be explored to produce cost effective bracelet or anklet tracker that can be worn by the prisoners who have procured bail and are out of prison on bail. It said mostly bail is denied on three counts- the undertrial prisoner may influence or intimidate the witness, will try to leave the country or commit another crime.

The committee in its meeting was informed about the initiative by Odisha government. “At the same time, it must be ensured that to avoid any kind of human rights violation this scheme or method should be used on voluntary basis after procuring the consent of inmates,” the report said.

State governments of Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh said that there are a few colonial era jails in the country which are more than hundred years old and are in a dilapidated condition. “The committee appreciates the proposal of the Government of Gujarat to make Ahmedabad Jail Bhajiya House cum-Restaurant-cum-historical gallery, a heritage structure depicting the ‘life and times’ of Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Kasturba Gandhi, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Zaverchand Meghani, who were all inmates of Sabarmati Jail,” the report titled ‘Prison-Conditions, Infrastructure and Reforms’ said.

The panel noted that overcrowding and delayed justice has become a pressing concern, leading to a series of consequences for both the prisoners and the criminal justice system as a whole. It recommended that prisoners from overcrowded jails may be transferred to other jails with vacant cells in the same State or other States.

The Committee noted that many State Prisons Departments have no jammers installed or they are capable of blocking only 2G and 3G network signals. The committee was informed that mobile phones are one of the major contraband articles that is most frequently smuggled into the prisons. Mobile phones in prisons are a potential hazard for

According to the prison statistics published by the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) for 2021, there are 1319 prisons in India, with a total capacity of 4,25,609 prisoners. However, the actual inmates are 5,54,034 which shows that the occupancy capacity rate is 130.2%. Of the total inmates, the number of undertrial prisoners is 4,27,165 and the number of convicted prisoners is 1,22,852. “Thus, the record clearly shows that the undertrial prisoners are more in prisons which is the main reason for overcrowding,” it said.

The occupancy of women prisoners has also been increased and the prisons are understaffed by approximately 30% of the required strength.

Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of undertrial prisoners, 21.21% of the country’s total undertrial prisoners are lodged in Uttar Pradesh. Delhi has the highest percentage of undertrial prisoners which is 91% of the total prisoners. As per the information provided by the Government of of Delhi, 11,894 prisoners had completed half of the maximum punishment that may be awarded to them for the offence committed by them. Out of these, 10,145 prisoners were recommended by Under Trial Review Committee (UTRC) for granting bail. However, only 1,696 of the prisoners were released, which is very low, the report said.

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