Report No. 268
M. Prison infrastructure
11.35 There are currently, 1,401 jails in the country which are classified as central jails, district jails, sub-jails, women jails, open jails, borstal schools, special jails and other jails. The total number of inmates consisting convicts, detenues and under-trials are 4,19,623 which means that prisons are buckling under the weight of inmate population. This is a kind of population explosion in the existing jail infrastructure. According to the Prison Statistics of India291 the prison occupancy stands at 114 percent. The prisons have a staff strength of 53,009 jail officials to take care of 4,19,623 inmates which amounts to 1 jail official per 8 inmates. Many prison institutions struggle to meet minimal health, hygiene and safety standards, with basic amenities and even structural systems like plumbing and ventilation susceptible to breakdowns.
With little finance and human resources earmarked for maintenance, it is hard to overcome operational shortfalls. Further, there is no segregation of the under-trial and convicts. The rising crime rates and the over-crowding of prisons mark the need to overhaul the crumbling prison infrastructure and system. Reducing the sheer number of under-trials by releasing them on bail may serve the useful purpose. Any such release of under-trial prisoners must be subject to the facts and circumstances of the case (especially in heinous offences), stage of trial, investigation report, socio-economic conditions of the accused person and ability to secure bail.