India

Uttar Pradesh - Where a prisoner dies every 26 hours

23 Oct 2016 | By Ramya

In response to activist Naresh Paras's RTI query, Uttar Pradesh Prison Department said over 2,062 prisoners dies in the state during Jan'10-Feb'16.

Out of them, 50% were undertrials, 44 committed suicide, and 24 died either in police custody or allegedly got murdered.

Paras wrote to National Human Rights Commission, UP Governor Shri Ram Naik, and Prime Minister's Office to take up the issue.

In context: The state of prisoners in Uttar Pradesh

IntroductionPrisons in Uttar Pradesh

There is a total of 62 prisons in Uttar Pradesh, including one Model Jail, five Central Jails, 51 District Jails, Lucknow's Nari Bandi Niketan, and Bareilly's Kishor Sadan.

All Central Jails, except Naini Central Jail, are for prisoners who have been proven guilty and awarded punishment.

Naini Central Jail and all district and sub-jails accommodate convicts along with undertrials.

Facilities in prisons

According to UP Prisons Department's website, several welfare schemes, prison facilities, medical facilities, entertainment, education, library, prisoners' rights protection, the prison industry and vocational training, etc. are available in the prisons in the state.
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Overcrowding in UP jails, a serious issue

IssuesOvercrowding in UP jails, a serious issue

UP prisons have long been accused of several issues, including overcrowding, lack of proper facilities and medical care, protection and surveillance, unnatural deaths, and violation of rights.

As of Dec'15, 60 prisons had inmates higher than capacity; total capacity was 52,572 while there were 88,747 prisoners.

The government is reportedly constructing new prisons to reduce overcrowding; efforts to control unnatural deaths are being made.

ProtestsPrisoners in several cities protest against lack of facilities

On 5 Oct'16, the NHRC had taken cognizance of reports that a prisoner in the Dadri lynching case succumbed to injuries in hospital.

Before this incident, prisoners in Agra, Lucknow, Varanasi, Kanpur, etc. had gone on a protest against the lack of prison facilities in Sep'16.

They also demanded the release of those inmates who had served their sentences or were very old.

23 Oct 2016Uttar Pradesh - Where a prisoner dies every 26 hours

Protection of prisoners

Naresh Paras said: "The atmosphere inside the prisons provokes convicts to commit suicide. Protection of prisoners is the prime responsibility of prison authorities, yet murders and unnatural deaths in jails and police custody continue to take place on a frequent basis."
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Prison ConditionsThe harsh reality - pathetic prison conditions

Naresh Paras stated authorities had given reasons like age and natural causes for the death of prisoners, which was just another excuse to escape the harsh reality.

He said the situation inside the prisons is pathetic and there is a lack of medical care for prisoners.

He added the prison clinics' infrastructure is poor and authorities have "no concern" for the inmates' rights.

2010-16Number of prisoner deaths

In 2010, 322 prisoners died, including six suicides and six murders; in 2011, 285 prisoners, including a Pakistani undertrial, died.

In 2012, a total of 360 deaths, including another Pakistani undertrial's, were recorded.

About 358 deaths in 2013, 345 in 2014, and 345 in 2015 were recorded; 53 deaths in the Jan-Feb'16 were recorded.

Most prisoners who died were below 60 years of age.

Inspector General of Police GL Meena's statement

"Several initiatives have been taken in the past to provide better facilities. Deaths reported due to old age and illness is quite normal and inevitable. The situation in prisons has improved in the past few years, but the number of prisoners has also increased."