The Transforming Landscape of Prisons of India: A Radical Approach

Bhawna Gandhi
Advocate, Delhi High Court, India.
Muneeb Rashid Malik
Lloyd Law College, Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India.

Volume II – Issue II, 2020

“The purpose of the criminal justice system is both to rehabilitate and to punish. If we can rehabilitate somebody, that’s a huge, huge win.”  -Blake Farenthold

The right to life and personal liberty enshrined in Article 21 is the sanctum sanctorum of the Indian Constitution. With the development of human rights jurisprudence, the outlook of punishment has changed and the modern democratic nations consider prisons as reformative and correctional institutions. Human dignity is the quintessence of Right to Life for all and even the prisoners have certain inherent rights vested in them by virtue of being a human. The Supreme Court has given utmost importance to the human rights of the prisoners and transformed from being the sentinel on qui vive to being an institution that frames guidelines for improvement of conditions of prisoners and also monitors their compliance. The contemporary approach aims at reforming the prisoners, in contrast with the traditional utilitarian theory of punishment which rests on the quintessence of deterring criminal behavior. The ‘once a criminal, always a criminal’ outlook towards prisoners is changing with the combined efforts of the three organs of government. The fundamental aim of article is to throw light on the Indian prison system and its transition from being ‘the jail to a correctional institution.’ It also briefly discusses prisoner’s rights, alternatives to sentencing policies and initiatives undertaken by the prison authorities for welfare of prisoners.

Keywords: Correctional measures, Criminal Justice System, Prison, Prisoners’ Rights, Sentencing Alternatives, Prison Reforms


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