PRISON REFORMS (Syllabus: GS Paper 2 - Social Justice)

News-CRUX-10     7th August 2023        

Context: The Union home ministry has framed guidelines to decongest prisons and has asked states and Union Territories to release economically weaker prisoners who are in jails due to non-payment of fine or unable to secure bail due to financial constraints. 

  • The scheme was announced by Union finance minister during her budget speech following which the MHA has launched consultation with states and Central ministries in April this year.

Key Points

  • According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) prison statistics 2021, out of the total 554,034 prison inmates in the country, 373,337 or 67.5% belonged to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other backward classes.
  • The home ministry has prepared guidelines and standard operating procedure (SOPs) on 'Support to Poor Prisoners' and forwarded to states and UTs for implementation of the scheme so that the first tranche of prisoners may be released ahead of the Independence Day celebrations on August 15.
  • As per the guidelines, the Centre will provide financial support to states to extend relief to poor prisoners who are unable to avail bail or get released from prisons due to non-payment of fine, on account of financial constraints.
  • This will enable poor prisoners, majority of whom belong to socially disadvantaged or marginalised groups with lower education and income level, to get out of prison. 
  • Free legal aid is being provided to poor prisoners through the Legal Services Authority at various levels," stated the home ministry.
  • A technology-driven solution is also being put in place to ensure that benefits reach the poor prisoners; reinforcing the E-prisons platform; strengthening of District Legal Services Authority and sensitisation and capacity-building of stakeholders to ensure that quality legal aid is made available to needy poor prisoners.
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