ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Urgent Need for Prison Reforms

For too long, our parliament, state    legislatures and the guardians of law and order have been oblivious to what goes on in places like police stations, jails and detention centres where justice and punishment are presumably awarded.

What happened in the 200-year old Chennai Central Prison on November 17, 1999 should be an eye-opener to our operators of criminal justice administration. Arson, mayhem and rioting by the prisoners on that day rocked the prison with at least nine prisoners killed in police firing and a deputy warder burnt alive. More than 120 others including 20 policemen were injured. The rampage triggered by the death of an inmate, Vadivelu, on the way to the hospital, was an expression of the prisoners' anger and dissatisfaction with the abysmally poor conditions in the jail. Most of the jails in the country are overcrowded and are marked by lack of privacy and sanitation, mistreatment, mismanagement and callous attitude of prison officials. The outrageously high number of undertrials and those who languish in jails for years without any specific charges or evidence of their offence, add to the problem of prison management.

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