As much as 66 per cent of the prisoners in Punjab jails are undertrials, resulting in overcrowding of prisons where three inmates share the space meant for two.
According to data on prisoners available with the Punjab jails department till July 31, as many as 18,768 inmates out of a total of 28,491 across 26 jails in the state are undertrials and 9,723 are convicts.
Sources said the situation in Punjab was no different from the national average, where 66 per cent prisoners are also undertrials. According to a data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), India’s prisons include 2.5 lakh undertrials, many of whom are detained indefinitely because the prison system fails to comply with laws that mandate their release after a specified period based on their offence.
“It is no different in Punjab jails,” say the sources.
Out of 18,768 prisoners, 9,319 (32.7 per cent) are drug peddlers and addicts who are being tried under the NDPS Act following the government’s crack down on drug use in the state. As many as 405 of them are women.
The jails can accommodate only 18,629 inmates (17,041 males and 1,588 females) but they are forced to lodge 28,491 prisoners, which is 35 per cent more than the capacity. There are 26,995 males and 14,96 females in various jails across the state.
Punjab’s jails have 6,616 convicted in criminal cases, 69 convicted in civil cases, 3,044 under the NDPS Act and 104 foreigners. Against this, the jails have 9,345 undertrials in criminal cases, and 9,319 undertrials in NDPS cases.
The state has eight central jails, nine district jails that include the open jail in Nabha and nine sub-jails. “We are hard pressed for space.
But four new reform houses are coming up soon. This will help our system. Well before these jails, we are organising six more barracks in existing jails within a few months. This will take care of 8,000 inmates. It will be comfortable then,” said ADGP Jails Rajpal Meena.
The data reveals that in certain jails like Modern Jail in Faridkot, the situation is quite comfortable with 2,229 inmates lodged against a capacity of 2,062. But in several others, for instance in Ludhiana, 3,329 inmates were lodged against a capacity of 2,600.
In Amritsar, five inmates occupy the space meant for two. Against a capacity of 1,500 inmates, over 4,000 were accommodated.
Similarly, in Sangrur jail, over 1,200 inmates were lodged against a capacity of 500. In Ropar jail also, 888 inmates were accommodated against provision for 275.