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28th April 2022 (8 Topics)

Setting up open prison for women in Tamil Nadu

Context

Tamil Nadu’s Minister for Law, Courts, Prisons and Prevention of Corruption recently said the government would consider setting up an open prison for women.

About

Open Prisons in Tamil Nadu:

  • The State had three open prisons in Singanallur, Salem Farm and Purasadai Udaippu in Sivaganga district.
  • The government had issued orders for declaring the lands adjacent to eight Central prisons in the State as open prisons.
  • It will consider setting up an open prison for women.

About Prisons System in India:

  • Prisons, as penal and correctional institutions, have existed in India and abroad since times immemorial. Prisons confine criminals, convicts and under-trials.
  • The primary purpose of prisons is to isolate or alienate such people from the society.
  • They are jailed for a certain period but the purpose of reformation and rehabilitation is sometimes defeated due to the prison environment and the treatment meted out to prisoners.
  • The administration and management of the modern prison system in India is governed by the Prisons Act of 1894, which has its origins in the recommendations of the “Prison Discipline Committee” appointed in 1836 by Lord Macaulay, followed by constitution of four jail commissions to review the system from time to time. 

What are open prisons?

  • Open prisons have relatively less stringent rules as compared to the controlled jails.
  • They go by many names like minimum-security prison, open air camps or prison without bars.
  • The fundamental rule of an open prison is that the jail has minimum security and functions on the self-discipline of the inmates.
  • Every state in India has a prison law, like the Rajasthan Prisoners Rules and Andhra Pradesh Prison Rules, 1979. Seventeen states are reported to have functional open jails with Rajasthan having 31 such prisons, the highest that any state has.
  • The jail does not confine them completely but requires them to earn their living to support their families, living with them inside the jail.
  • The philosophy on the basis of which the open prison exists is reflected in the two dictums of Sir Alexander Paterson.
  • First, a man is sent to prison as punishment and not for punishment.
  • Second, one cannot train a man for freedom unless conditions of his captivity and restraints are considerably relaxed.
  • The need for having open penal and correctional institutions was recognised and extensively discussed in the first United Nation Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders held in Geneva in 1955.
  • The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, popularly known as the Nelson Mandela Rules, laid down the objectives of open prisons stating, that such prisons provide no physical security against escape but rely on the self-discipline of the inmates, provide the conditions most favourable to the rehabilitation of carefully selected prisoners.
  • The All-India Committee on Jail Reform constituted in 1980 recommended the government to set up and develop open prisons in each state and UT.

Who are eligible for open prisons?

  • Every state law defines the eligibility criteria of inmates who can be in an open prison.
  • The principal rule is that an inmate eligible for open air prison has to be a convict.

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