Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative report suggests Haryana prisons are problematic
Prisons in Haryana faced a lot of unaddressed issues such as overcrowding; undignified body searches; hygiene and menstrual products an ignored aspect; and racism towards the foreign prisoners
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) and Haryana State Legal Services Authority have published a study called ‘Inside Haryana Prisons’ which found out that the prisons faced a lot of unaddressed issues such as overcrowding; dishonourable, undignified body searches; hygiene and menstrual products a completely ignored aspect; and racism toward the foreign nationality prisoners.
The report also said that these jails were not lacking in infrastructural, food-related or cleanliness standards. The main problems were a management and logistics issue. 19,062 prisoners in 19 prisons; and the report talked to 475 prisoners and prison officials and representatives of legal services institutions between December 2017 and May 2018. Out of the 19 prisons surveyed, 3 were central and the rest were district jails.
11 prisons were found to be overcrowded, overcrowding percentage ranging from 22.8% to 170%. “Data received from 18 jails showed that against 3,193 sanctioned posts, there is an overall staff vacancy of almost 20%. Gurugram and Faridabad district prisons had the highest staff vacancy at almost 44%,” the report had found out.
There is not enough oil or soap, or other necessities like these. These are supposed to be supplied by either the centre or by some family member of the prisoners. So if the prisoner does not have a family or money, he cannot buy these essentials. The body searches also seemed to make most patients uncomfortable.
Medical Reports don’t have clarity
Many prisoners complained that medical reports don’t take into account injuries or histories properly. Some of the jails do not have any fixed medical specialists, and in their absence medical personnel are too overworked to pay proper attention to the inmates. There is also no mental health professional in a jail filled with 42 inmates who have a mental illness.
No Aadhaar, no meeting with relatives
The study also revealed that some prisoners were unable to meet their families because Aadhaar cards have been made mandatory identification proof for visitors, and people without these are not allowed to visit prisons.
20% of prisoners do not even have a lawyer
While all prisons have convict and community paralegals to man the legal aid clinics and 343 legal awareness camps were conducted by legal services authorities in 2017 alone, the study revealed that 90 out of the 475 inmates interviewed did not have a lawyer.
The study said there were 48 of them in ten prisons and many of them complained of racism and discrimination. Of them, only six have been provided consular access. Also, five of them were found not represented by any lawyer. Also, 28 of them were found not in contact with their families. “Despite the Prison Inmate Calling System (PICS), FNPs are not permitted to make international calls to their relatives.”
The study also discovered that some inmates were unable to see their kin because Aadhaar cards have been made compulsory identification proof for visitors, and people without these are not allowed to visit prisons.