Prison population increased by 14% in last 2 years

The CHRI report released on Friday stated that prison population had in the 24 states increased from 4,00,268 to 4,55,886.

An analysis of the population of prisons in 24 States, for which comparative data was available, by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has found that the prison population increased by 14% from December 31, 2019 till November 12 this year.

The CHRI report released on Friday stated that prison population had in the 24 states increased from 4,00,268 to 4,55,886. “This is a huge jump from the 2% to 4% annual increase in prison population each year since 2015 to 2019,” the report said, citing data from the National Crime Records Bureau, prison websites and court documents. The occupancy of prisons had increased from 115% to 133%, while the COVID-19 pandemic raged.

“The proportion of undertrials increased from 69% to 77%. The year 2020 witnessed nearly 9 lakh more arrests than 2019 despite lockdowns and extensive restrictions on movement of general public,” the CHRI said.

The head of CHRI’s prison reforms programme, Madhurima Dhanuka, said: “India’s already overcrowded prisons are struggling to cater to the needs of prisoners. Increased arrests, delays in hearing of bail applications, and suspension of regular court work have resulted in this precarious situation.”

The CHRI statement added that the Supreme Court should take cognisance of the matter and the National Human Rights Commission should also ensure regular inspections of prisons by their special rapporteurs and monitors.

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