While undertrials in Indian prisons increased from 67 per cent in 2015 to 69 per cent in 2019, capacity in jails increased by 1.9 per cent during this period, according to latest data on jails released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
More than 18 lakh people were brought to jails in 2019, of which over 3 lakh continue to languish without any recourse to bail, the data for 2019 shows.
It also points to overcrowding in prisons – from an occupancy rate of 114 per cent in 2015 to 118.5 per cent in 2019.
The highest occupancy rate was reported from jails in Delhi, where almost 175 prisoners are crammed in a space meant for 100. Uttar Pradesh (167.9 per cent) and Uttarakhand (159 per cent) follow Delhi, NCRB reported.
Delhi, however, has made an improvement over its figures for 2015, when overcrowding in its prisons was at 233 per cent, but it has fared poorly in improvement compared to states such as Chhattisgarh, which reduced overcrowding from 233 per cent in 2015 to 150 per cent in 2019.
Of 4.78 lakh prisoners across the country, UP has reported the highest number – 1 lakh – in its jails, contributing 21.2 per cent of all inmates, followed by Madhya Pradesh (44,603), Bihar (39,814), Maharashtra (36,798), Punjab (24,174) and West Bengal (23,092) as on December 31, 2019. These states together contribute around 56.4 per cent of total prisoners in the country.
The number of convicted prisoners has increased from 1,39,488 in 2018 to 1,44,125 in 2019 – an increase of 3.32 per cent during the period.
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Among convicts under IPC crimes (1,26,400) lodged in various jails, around 84.72 per cent have committed offences affecting “Human Body” and around 11.07% have committed “Offences against Property”. Among convicts of “Offences against Human Body”, the highest number of inmates were convicted of murder (67.44%), followed by rape convicts (12.57%), and those convicted of attempt to murder (6.98%).
Among convicts of “Offences against Women”, most were convicted of rape (64.05%), followed by those convicted of dowry deaths (25.58%).
Convicts under laws related to liquor and narcotics drugs made up the bulk (55%) of those convicted under special and local laws, followed by those convicted under the Arms Act (11.45%).
The trend for undertrials was similar, with 64 per cent facing charges under “Offences against Human Body” such as murder, rape and attempt to murder.
The data shows that more than 26 per cent undertrials are in jail for more than one year, and more than 32 per cent are in prison for more than three months and up to a year.
The educational profile of jail inmates (including undertrials and convicts) shows they are predominantly illiterate or semi-literate. While 27.7 per cent prisoners were illiterate, 41.6 per cent prisoners had education below Class X, 21.5 per cent had passed Class X but were below graduation. In effect, almost 70 per cent inmates are either illiterate or semi-literate and more than 90 per cent had not gone to college, NCRB data shows.
Only 6.3 per cent prisoners had a degree, and 1.7 per cent were postgraduates.
There were also 5,608 foreign prisoners in jails across the country as on December, 2019.
Among the foreign convicts, the highest number were from Bangladesh (67.7%) followed by Nepal (10.5%) and Myanmar (7.1%). West Bengal has reported the highest number of foreign-convicts lodged in its jails at 63.5%.
Among undertrial foreigners, the highest number was again from Bangladesh (35%), followed by Nigeria (23%) and Nepal (17.4%). West Bengal has reported the highest number of foreign-undertrial lodged in their jails at 19.3%.