Indian prisons are overcrowded to extent of 129%, says Andhra Pradesh Governor Abdul Nazeer

Andhra Pradesh Governor S. Abdul Nazeer has said that issues pertaining to overcrowding of prisons and the pursuit of alternative forms of incarceration are important while planning reforms in the prison administration, pointing out that the prisons in the country are overcrowded to the extent of 129%.

The Governor, who is on a four-day tour to the city, participated as the chief guest at the valedictory session of the two-day national conference of the ‘Heads of Prisons of States and Union Territories on Correctional Services of Prisons in Amrit Kaal’, at a beach resort at Rushikonda here on September 12 (Tuesday).

Addressing the gathering, Mr. Nazeer emphasised the need for exploring alternative incarceration methods such as community-based programmes and restorative justice initiatives that are comprehensive in nature, and focusing more on the prison reforms and administration in a holistic way.

He said the two-day conference had deliberated upon the use of technology in correctional administration. “The profound impact of technology in the realm of correctional administration is a paradigm shift and will certainly usher in a new era of enhanced security, efficiency, and rehabilitation. The critical issue of mental health of prison inmates requires more focus. Every individual, regardless of their circumstances, deserves access to proper mental healthcare,” said Mr. Nazeer.

The Governor said that the Model Prisons Act 2023 prepared by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs is going to replace the British-era law, the Prisons Act of 1894. The new law is expected to overhaul the prison administration and focus on the reformation and rehabilitation of the inmates. The provisions of Prisoners Act of 1900 and the Transfer of Prisoners Act of 1950 have also been assimilated into the Model Prisons Act 2023, and it is expected to bring the much-needed reforms to the Indian prison administration and align it with international conventions and standards.

The Model Prisons Act 2023 also addresses various suggestions and recommendations made by the Justice Mulla Committee of 1983, Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer Committee on Women Prisoners of 1987, the Committee of the Director General of Bureau of Police Research and Development of 2005, he added.

‘Andhra Pradesh is a model for others’

The Andhra Pradesh Prisons Department is a model for other States as it is the first State to introduce the production of inmates before the courts in virtual mode (video conference), the Governor said.

The department has also taken several steps in prison administration by extending free corporate medical facility to the prisoners under YSR Arogyasri scheme, technological interventions, skill development programmes for the inmates, thus making a positive impact on the well-being of the inmates and improving the quality of prison environment, he added.

Home Minister Taneti Vanitha was also present in the valedictory session.

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