Being A Prisoner In India: A Story About Indian Jails

Posted on November 18, 2011 in Society

By Gaurav Upadhyay:

When we think of a Jail, we visualize one of the scenes from those retro bollywood movies with a dark room where the inmates are neatly dressed in striped attire, there is a huge space behind those walls where people do stone hammering and also sing and fight. The atrocity which is shown on the reel is mostly inhuman behavior of the Jailer, sometimes even funny when the jailers are ‘Angrezon ke zamane ke jailer’. The reality is different and more ‘inhuman’.

The real jails are a 10’x10’ rooms with toilet instilled in the same space, a bunch of weak, delirious people with some disturbing sad stories. There is an acute lack of hygiene and a dearth of even basic requirements to live. The jails are overcrowded, as clean as a stable of horses, housing people who waiting for their lucks to take a turn while in trial. A few are abandoned, a few say they are not guilty, and then there are women prisoners who face a different degree of stigma and humiliation.

In India, we still follow the Prisoner’s act of 1894. The application of a century old law in the changed socio-political scenario is absolutely bizarre, and is out of tune with the entirely transformed picture of human society. During the past some decades, several organizations, intellectuals and committees set up for jail reforms have expressed their views on the importance of reviewing the Act which is not comprehensive.

Overcrowding is a huge problem, the number of inmates on an average in a jail in India is 3 times of the capacity.

Below are the figures from National Informatics centre for year 2003, and the situation has worsened since then. The need is really to fast forwarded a ton of cases and get justice delivered. I am sure we should at least know of this fact, write about them and ideally act on them.


– Total Number of Jails in the country : 1,140

– Total Capacity of Jails in the country : 2,33,543

– Total Number of Jail Inmates : 3,26,519

Male : 3,13,739 (96.1%) Female : 12,780 (3.9%)

Convicts : 91,766 (28.1% of total inmates) under trial Prisoners : 2,17,658 (66.7% of total inmates)

Male : 96.3% of total convicts Male : 96.5% of total under trials

Female : 3.7% of total convicts Female : 3.5% of total under trials

– The highest number of 50,531 inmates (49,410 male : 1,121 female) were reported from Uttar Pradesh (15.5%) followed by Bihar 37,323 (36,274 male : 1,049 female) at the end of the year 2003.

– 339 Women Convicts with 334 children; and 1,132 Women under trials with their 1,131 children.

– The highest number of Graduate and Post Graduate Convicts were reported from Punjab (648) and Uttar Pradesh (137) respectively at the end of the year 2003.

– Murder alone accounted for 58.6% of the total Convicts under IPC Crimes.

As they say, we should kill crime not the criminal – that too this way!