PRISON AND CORRECTIONAL ADMINISTRATION
P. K. Raj
Chief Probation Officer
When general people think of Prisons, they tend to consider their physical aspect like walls, fences, and building with locked doors and windows with grills. In reality, the most important aspect of the prison is the human dimension, since prisons are primarily concerned with people. Two basic elements of the prisons are the prisoners and the officers and staffs who look after them.
Developments in the field of social sciences have proved beyond doubt that social setting is more responsible in the making of a criminal than any other factors. It is also generally accepted that society is now responsible for the making of the criminals. If a person has become a criminal probably because of certain circumstances over which he has no control or he was not strong enough to face off those circumstances, but once a person commits crime, the society looks down upon him. He is convicted by the society then and their without bothering about legal procedures. The society has no time, and no patience to analyse the situation.
But today things are changed Prisons are no more a place of punishment. Prison administration has gained lot of significance in recent times. Issues like Human Rights and new Legal Provision have made the way for massive reforms in the Prison Management System. It is realised that “There is always a human being behind a Criminal”. Therefore proper treatment of criminal has been accepted as society’s responsibility. With the gradual awareness of social responsibility the basis of punishment which was formerly retributive and deterrent has been accepted as reformative and rehabilitation. It is realised that every criminal who has erred against society has latent potentialities which must be discovered `and strengthened for their rehabilitation by those who are responsible for their treatment.
Prisons are expected to re-educate one who has been declared a criminal, in order to help him eventually to be rehabilitated in an atmosphere of healthy social interaction and to promote the prospect of his reclamation in the social milieu. The existing prison conditions in general are, however, not conducive to the fulfilment of the desired objective.
For prisons to reform, it is indeed essential that the prison personnel must not only know of the rehabilitative orientation of their functions and duties, but should also find rules and procedures in prison manuals that are in accordance with such a philosophy of prison administration. Unfortunately, rehabilitation, to be sure, is still a term of doubtful merit in the dictionary of old fashioned prison administration who still cling to the notion of retributive or deterrent philosophy of prison incarceration. To most administrators, immediate problems of custody and control of prisoners seemed to be more important and real than the distant prospects of prisoners’ rehabilitation
The most terrible moment in the convict’s life is not that in which the prison door closes upon him, shutting him out from the world, but that in which it opens to admit his return to the world, having suffered for months or years from the deprivation of pleasures to which he was accustomed. In many areas of community life the released prisoner finds himself handicapped and stigmatised. His problems are multifarious; psychological, social, economic, legal and the like. Moreover, the released prisoner is always kept under surveillance by the police.
Social and psychological consequences of Imprisonment
Social consequences of imprisonment can obviously be marked mainly at two stages of prisoner’s life. The first stage begins during the period an inmate undergoes through the process of prisonisation and the second starts at the moment he is released and starts his efforts for finding out a place back in the society along with other law abiding citizens .The most important social consequences of imprisonment which comes in the way of a released prisoner is his reduced social status. A released prisoner faces a lot of difficulty in maintaining social relationship in the habitat in which he lives. All the time he is afraid that the persons knowing about his imprisonment may leak out the fact to his new friends he is cultivating. This creates a fear complex in his mind and restrains him from making contact with people. Any prisoner, similarly, after his release, suffers from two psychological problems which create serious impediment in the way of his rehabilitation. These are his symptoms of withdrawal and of suspicion towards other fellow beings and his feeling of hatred towards the entire criminal justice system and to the society as well. The loss of liberty is the most vital factor which is perceived by an inmate in various forms of deprivations.
Most of the prisoners in Indian jails come from lower economic strata. Once they land in prison, their economic life gets shattered. The moment the person is released from the prison he is forced to face the crisis alone without any guaranteed help or cooperation from any side. The attitudes of the society towards him are associated with hostility, resentment and distrust. Nobody is ready to help or employ him. In many prisons the prisoners are provided with vocational training in different traits with the hope that they may pick up the same type of work after their release. But experience has shown that a very few get an opportunity to secure a job in the community which they have learnt in the prison. In this condition he is pressurised not only to fulfil the financial obligation for himself and his family members, but also to repay the old debts which might have been caused by his family members during his confinement. The confrontation with this type of situation without any societal support often makes him vulnerable to commit further crime merely for economic gains or to become agreeable to accept a proposition from any criminal gang to get financial help at the cost of his rendering some illegal services to them.
After care and Rehabilitation
The most critical period in the life of a prisoner starts after his release from the prison. The monotonous routines of a restricted living disorient him completely for the social life in the free community. His family is in disarray and his friends’ desert him. Due to continuous absence in the village for years together his lands have also perhaps been grabbed. People bear an antipathy towards him just because he has been in the prison. His ill reputation as a criminal and the stigma of imprisonment follow him at all points of life. No one is prepared to believe that he has recovered from the set back of crime and its consequences, and that now he can possibly lead an honest and hard working life. He has no courage to tell people that he has come out of a degrading past and is making a fresh and honest effort for living the life of a normal citizen. Life for him is tense and trying. He needs help and he needs correctional treatment and rehabilitation.
Role of welfare/correctional officers
In Jail administration Prison Welfare Officer plays a key role in solving the problems related to inmates. He is the person with whom inmates feel free to share their feelings and emotions. The Prison Welfare Officer has to do multifarious work beyond his job chart. As per decision taken in the meeting held in the conference hall of the Home department on 21.09.10 under the chairmanship of principal secretary Home department the P.W.O is to meet each prisoner every day and assess whether they suffer from any sorts of depression or face any other problem. The P.W.O shall in specific cases visit the village of the prisoner to enquire the situation and will give report to the concerned I.I.C of the police station. Thus as a part of correctional services the Welfare Officer performs a challenging job in the field of reformation and rehabilitation of prisoners in the society.
The crime is the outcome of a diseased mind and each prison should have an environment of hospital to treat such diseased mind. Incarceration in prison leads to stigmatization and social disorientation causing loss of means of livelihood. Therefore these diseased minds can be best treated through appropriate skill, engagement and vocational training. Therefore they should be given proper engagement and vocational training in order to keep them away from the evil effect of monotony and boredom, because “Boredom kills a person death does not kill.
The job of prison officers is quite different from that of the police officers. The job of a correctional officer starts where the job of a police officer ends. Therefore when a person enters the prison the punishment stops and the correction starts. Correction means reformation with appropriate skill for a particular individual, so that after stepping out from the prison he /she can lead a decent and honourable life.
The sole objective of prison is to impart proper skill to the inmates, but the skills which we are imparting to them are not in consonance with their aptitude. Of course it is quite difficult job to study their aptitude and ability. It is observed that in most of the jails of our state the industry instructors who are in charge of imparting skills are under skilled. Most of the existing vocational training units which we have in our jail are not matched to the employable work outside the jail. Therefore, modernization and renovation of prison industry needs to be done on priority basis. The objective of giving work or training to an inmate is to cultivate a kind of work ethic and a kind of positive attitude within him.
Role of correctional officers :
The role of correctional officer is crucial in every aspect of prisoners’ life in the prison. It starts from day one and it continues till he is extended proper facilities for rehabilitation. It covers all areas such as :
- Providing the prisoners in their care with opportunities to change and develop.
- Equipping prisoners for life after release. Proper arrangement should be made to help prisoners find place to settle after they are released.
- Helping the prisoners to get skill and capacity to earn a living and to lead a decent life with family.
- Developing partnership with civil society and educational organizations in the community in order to increase the opportunities available to prisoners.
- To preserve the links with the family and outside world.
- Encouraging and assisting prisoners to maintain or establish relations with persons or agencies outside the institution as may promote the best interest of his family and his own social rehabilitation.
- Implementing innovative ideas in helping prisoners gain skills and providing opportunity to attend training course outside the jail where they can continue to work after the release.
- Arranging recreational and spiritual programmes for the benefit of mental and physical health of prisoners,
- Ensuring that whenever prisoners are employed by private companies or through contractors either inside the prison or outside the premises they are not used merely as a source of cheap labour but they should be paid full rate for the work they do.
- Providing innovative work environment for the women prisoners without restricting them to activities like tailoring and handicraft.
Lastly, the key to prison reforms are its personnel. If the personnel want to bring the real reform in the prison system then it can only be possible. Government may provide the budget and the infrastructure but to work it out on the ground good staff is required. One problem is to find out the right staff having the right vision. As a correctional officer we should not have lot of prejudices in our heart. Unless we are positive in our mind set towards the inmates, no reformation or rehabilitation is possible. It all depends upon how sensible we are about our job then only the success and failure of rehabilitation can be achieved. Therefore being a part of correctional administration we should extend the hands of humanity towards all such deprived people, so that they come back to the society and lead an honourable and decent life.
Therefore, never get angry, never make a threat, and reason with people by building trust. Deal with your inmates with kindness and own their heart by performance not by arguments, because only your performance can reform them.
Shri Bijaya Chandra Rath,
District Probation Officer,
CORRECTIONAL ADMINISTRATION IS THE SUBSTITUTE TO IMPRISONMENT
If we can cherish to see our prisons as Correctional houses, it can be found that in the prisons the Custodial function enjoys a supremacy over the Correctional one which is as it should not be. Generally in Prisons inmates are reluctant to express their internal feelings, sorrowness etc. before the custodial functionaries. Prison inmates are detached from their homes and society for which they always prefer a friendly and familiar behavior from the prison staff to get relief from the mental depression. To input an appropriate dose of correctional or reformative treatment in the Prisons in order to change their disturbed minds, all the staffs deployed for the purpose from the grass route level should required to be changed their attitudes, feelings, behaviors, relationship etc. towards the inmates for creating a conducive atmosphere.
In the Criminal Justice System, Prisons in India are designed as Correctional Home for the correction and reformation of its inmates. The official staff should show their quasiparental role towards the character building process of the prisoners and leave them to the main stream of the society as a man to earn their livelihood. All the Prisons should render affection, nourishment, sound treatment to inmates and to offer a life to adjust in the society as better class person. It is an easy process to make an ordinary man to a delinquent. But to change a delinquent to an ordinary man is the difficult process in the society.
The aim and objective of a Prison is to produce good man from bad one. The man making process is the primary role of the Correctional Officer which is a difficult task. This is the most difficult role, just like a natural mother to prepare her offspring as a real man on the earth. This is the
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greatest sacrifice role of a Correctional Officer for the sake of the individual as well as Society. The basic aim of a Correctional Officer that the prisoner must be prepared as a free man in the community by humanizing and socializing them. Rehabilitation again in the society must be his overriding goal. Contribution of a Correctional Officer both for the Institutional and Non-Institutional treatment are always important to rehumanise every prisoner or offender and make him/her a useful worker in the society by educative, corrective and reformative methods. Despite having constraints and lack of infrastructure, he has to go on discharging his duties honestly, sincerely and perfectly to proof his great efforts in the line of his profession.
There are two types of treatments generally prescribed in the Criminal Justice System. One is Institutional and other is Non-institutional treatment. The other name of probation is non-institutional or community based treatment. It can well said that since the inception of our society, crime has been a constant phenomenon that has always prevailed in society. Where there are human being and their activities, there will be crime due to the inherent selfishness and greed which is present in human nature. The natural reaction to crime in our society has always been to imprison the offender and isolate him from society in order to reform him as well as to establish peace and tranquility in the Society. However, in recent years there is an awareness which is rising in the Criminal Justice System regarding the disadvantages of imprisonment and the advantages of alternates to imprisonment. Now a large number of offenders are imprisoned each year which leads to overcrowding in Prisons. Most of these prisoners are petty offenders who are short term prisoners. These petty offenders are mixed together with the serious offenders which further leads to a negative influence on these offenders. Therefore, rather than rehabilitation imprisonment leads to creation of gangs in prisons and other illicit activities which could be avoided by using alternative mode of punishment. Many alternative modes of punishment prescribed in the current criminal justice system in India , but release on “Probation” under the supervision of a Probation Officer is one of the most important and popular among them. If more emphasis will be given on this, it can save a huge amount of the State exchequer, save the family of the offender from frustration, reduce the overcrowding in the prison etc.
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Probation is a form of community based treatment i.e. treatment outside the four walls of the prison. It has been perfectly said that when an offender released by the Court under Probation of Offenders Act, 1958, he is fully inspired and encouraged to maintain an honest life in the main stream of the Society as he is convinced that even after prove of his guilty by the Hon’ble Court, he is given a chance under the P.O. Act to rectify and self-realise for his bad habits. By this he creates a good atmosphere for others to refrain from doing further crime in the society. Probation is an act of conditional suspension of punishment while the offender is placed under personal supervision and given individual guidance on treatment. Probation is a humane method of reforming the offender by exposing them to sincere information and advice from learned counselors and exposing them to society. In India, the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958, provides for a uniform law on probation of criminal offenders. Section 3 of the Act provides that the Courts can release a person on admonition if he is convicted of a crime carrying less than 2 years of punishment among other requirements. The objective of this section is to prevent the offenders of less serious crimes from turning into hardened criminals in prisons and to reform them and introduce them to society. Section 4 of the Act empowers the Courts in appropriate cases to release any offenders on probation of good conduct instead of sentencing him at once to any punishment. The sole intention of Section. 4 of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958, is that the accused person should be given a chance of reformation which he would lose being incarcerated in prison.
Probation Officer is known as the Correctional Officer. For blowing humanitarian winds into the prison barricades as well as into the Community/ Society, role of Probation Officer is highly essential . Unfortunately, we do not have sufficient infrastructure for implementing the reformative philosophy, rehabilitation strategy, therapeutic prison treatment and to maintain the offenders personality, still then the Probation Officer is taking much pain to establish a good rapport between Police, Prison, Judiciary and Society.
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Conclusion & Suggestions
The road to actively introducing alternatives to imprisonment has just laid its foundation in the criminal justice system in India. The current machinery is far from perfect in order to successfully introduce alternative modes of punishment. In order to achieve the goal of efficiently providing alternates to imprisonment some of the suggestions are:
(i)The provision of discharge given under Section 360 of the Code should be used more liberally and frequently by the courts. The main reason for overcrowding in prisons is because of small type offenders convicted under petty offences. This can be avoided, if these offenders are discharged under Section 360 or under sec. 3 of the P.O. Act..
(ii) In India, the provision of probation is underutilized and many times an offender is released on probation without any supervision. Therefore, in India probation has become the equivalent of ‘letting go’ which should not be the case. Proper machinery for supervision of probated offenders needs to be established.
(iii)We do not have the prison infrastructure necessary for the growth and development of real and tangible reformation of the prisoners. Unless, separate prison for convicted prisoners and open air Prison are opened, the present ground is not conducive for taking the seeds of reformation.
(iv) More and more focus and priority should be given to the Social Defence Scheme in order to gear up the Correctional Administration which is the most cardinal component of the entire system. Considering the present requirements, suitable infrastructure is to be enhanced for the overall development of the Probation Scheme.