Sunday, February 19, 2012

125. On old prisoners

In this week's "India Today", I read a moving article on old prisoners. Rajasthan jails have 141 convicts who are seventy plus and many of them have committed crimes like attempt to robbery. These convicts suffer from infirmities like knee problems, deafness, vision disorders and so on. They need assistance to move around. Many cannot even go to the toilet on their  own. Many do not have the teeth to chew chapatis they get in jails.They cannot do their daily chores like fetching water and washing clothes. Many die of illness in jails.

The jailed geriatrics, especially women, do not have many visitors. Even if they are eligible to be released on parole, there is no one to give surety for them. The India Today article says that the jail manual does not even allow shifting of such convicts to open jails and court orders have to be obtained in individual cases to do so.

Obviously, this problem is not limited to Rajasthan jails alone. In some other States, the problem could be worse. The country-wide figure of old prisoners must be running into thousands. I wish, someone takes a close look at the problem and comes up with remedial measures.

Keeping old and infirm people in jails who pose no threat to society makes no sense to me at all. They may have committed some crime when they were able-bodied. But our criminal justice system takes so much of time before a case is decided that by the time one is convicted, one becomes totally unfit to be kept in a jail.

I was aghast to read that until June 2011, Gorakhpur jail had India's oldest prisoner who was 108. I shudder to think, someone may argue someday that the dead body of a convict needs to be punished if he/she could not be punished during his/her life time.


Keats The Sunshine Girl said...

Sad state of affairs. Certainly not a resting place! Who fights for them anymore?

kavita said...

Very sad and pathetic.For cases like these a special jury of selected citizen can be appointed who can arrange for their release and rehabilitation without going through much legal mumbo -jumbo.But that is never going to happen in our country.

P.N. Subramanian said...

I think some of our social organisations could take up their cause and I sincerely believe some such org would have already made some moves after learning about such infirm prisoners.

Ruprekha said...

This shows the extreme sad state of affairs of our country.