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MHA asked States to follow the Model Prison Manual, 2016 to bring uniformity in the basic principles governing prisons of the country. Image for representational purpose.
| Photo Credit: C. Venkatachalapathy

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has asked the State prison authorities to “conduct special deradicalisation sessions” in all prisons with the help of correctional and behavioural experts, to “bring a change in the mindset of misguided criminals”.

Though prison is a State subject, the MHA asked the States to follow the Model Prison Manual, 2016 to bring uniformity in the basic principles governing the prisons of the country.

“However, despite constant follow up by MHA, several States are yet to confirm the status of adoption of the Model Prison Manual 2016 in their jurisdictions. The States and UTs who have not adopted the Model Prison Manual so far are again requested to expedite the same and take necessary steps for adopting it and bringing in the prison reforms in accordance with the guidelines provided in the Manual,” MHA said in a letter dated January 9.

It asked the prison administration to ensure the separation of various categories of prisoners such as women, young offenders, under-trials, convicts, high-risk offenders, etc. and to lodge them in jail separately with a view to ensuring the safety and security of inmates.

“In this regard, special attention needs to be paid by the Prison administration in ensuring that inmates inclined towards propagating the ideology of radicalisation and those who have the propensity and potential to negatively influence other inmates are housed in separate enclosures away from other inmates,” the Ministry’s communication said.

“Solitary confinement”

It added that inmates who were in custody for offences related to narcotics and smuggling of drugs, needed to be lodged separately, and to the possible extent not allowed to mix with other inmates, again with the intention of keeping others away “from the influence of such unscrupulous individuals”.

The Ministry said that as per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) 2021 report, as many as 1102 jails of the country were equipped with video conferencing facilities. The Department of Justice had informed that under the eCourts Mission Mode Project, video conferencing facility between courts and jailshas had been enabled in 3240 court complexes. The NCRB report said that as on December 31, 2021, approximately 28% posts of jail staff were lying vacant in various States. In some States, about 40 to 50% posts of jail staff were lying vacant and State authorities were requested to launch special recruitment drives to fill the vacancies in all categories. “A sensitive institution like Prisons and Correctional Services should not be understaffed as this is not only a potential security risk but also deprives the prison inmates of the correctional services to be provided to them for weaning them away from the path of crime and making them dutiful citizens of the country,” the Ministry said.

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