In this article, we will discuss Prison Statistics of India (PSI) 2020. So, let’s get started.
Prison Statistics of India (PSI) 2020
- The recently released Prisons Statistics of India (PSI) 2020 gives a glimpse of how successful the prison decongestion and medical safeguards have been.
- The Prison Statistics India 2016, published by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
- The 2020 report does not contain any Covid-19 specific data.
- Between December 2019 and December 2020, prison occupancy reduced marginally from 120% to 118%.
- The pandemic year (2020) witnessed nearly 900,000 more arrests than in 2019.
- In absolute numbers, in December 2020, there were 7,124 more people in jail than in December 2019.
- The increase in the share of under-trials in prisons was at an all-time high. PSI 2020 puts the percentage at 76% in December 2020: An increase from the earlier 69% in December 2019.
- The people who are undertrials are those yet to be found guilty of the crimes they have been accused of.
State-wise Scenario of PSI 2020
- In 17 states, on an average, prison populations rose by 23% from 2019 to 2021, as opposed to 2-4% in previous years.
- The appalling figures come from states such as Uttar Pradesh, Sikkim, and Uttarakhand, which had tragic occupancy rates of 177%, 174%, and 169%, respectively (December 2020).
- Only Kerala (110% to 83%), Punjab (103% to 78%), Haryana (106% to 95%) Karnataka (101% to 98%), Arunachal Pradesh (106% to 76%) and Mizoram (106% to 65%) could reduce their occupancy of prisons below 100%.
- To What Extent is the Video-Conferencing Facility Available for Trials and How Far is it Relevant?
- Video-conferencing(VC) promised some relief from court closures.currently, 69% of prisons have VC facilities, as opposed to 60% in 2019.
- However, the facility is not evenly distributed across the country.
- Tamil Nadu, Manipur, West Bengal, Nagaland, A&N Islands, Rajasthan and Lakshadweep still have VC facilities in less than 50% of their jails.
- Tamil Nadu, which has more than 14,000 prisoners, has VC facilities in only 14 of its 142 jails.
- Uttarakhand, which has VC facilities in all its jails, continues to increase under-trial numbers and has an occupancy rate of 169%.
- It is important to keep in mind that the VC facilities only accomplish the necessity of law that a prisoner must be produced before a magistrate every two weeks. Fulfilling this technicality does nothing for decongestion or effectuating speedy justice.
Availability of Medical Staff in Prisons
- There remains a huge shortage of medical staff (resident medical officers/medical officers, pharmacists, and lab technicians/attendants), leading to delays in attending to the needs of inmates.
- Goa has the highest vacancy (84.6%) of medical staff, followed by Karnataka (67.1%), Ladakh (66.7%), Jharkhand (59.2%), Uttarakhand (57.6%) and Haryana (50.5%).
- While Goa has only two medical staff for over 500 inmates, Karnataka has 26 for 14,308 prisoners.
- With a vacancy of 90%, Uttarakhand has only one medical officer for 5,969 inmates. Jharkhand’s vacancy levels are at 77.1%.
- In 15 states, the number of available medical staff was reduced in 2019-20; whereas the inmate population increased by nearly 10,000.
- Shortages in medical officer vacancies average around 34% nationally. Mizoram is reported to have no medical officer.
- Only Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya meet the benchmark of at least one medical officer for every 300 prisoners.