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Delhi has 75% more prisoners than capacity, 69% of all prisoners in India are undertrials

According to a CHRI analysis of NCRB prisons data, India’s overall jail occupancy rate is 118.5%. In 8 states & UTs, this figure is over 150%.

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New Delhi: Delhi has the most overcrowded prisons in the country, with 74.9 per cent more inmates than capacity, according to an analysis based on the National Crime Records Bureau’s Prison Statistics Report, 2019.

The analysis was part of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative’s ‘Ten Things You Should Know About Indian Prisons’ report released Friday — a report that has been an annual feature since 2015.

India’s overall occupancy rate stood at 118.5 per cent in 2019, the highest since 2015, according to the report accessed by ThePrint. At the end of 2019, there were 4,78,600 prisoners in 1,350 prisons, of which 3,30,487 — or 69 per cent — were under-trial prisoners.

Also read: 10.1% who killed themselves in 2019 were unemployed, Maharashtra tops suicide chart — NCRB data

High occupancy, huge jumps

The national capital is one of eight states and union territories whose prisons have an occupancy of over 150 per cent, with the others being Uttar Pradesh (167.9 per cent), Uttarakhand (159 per cent), Meghalaya (157.4 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (155.3 per cent), Sikkim (153.8 per cent), Maharashtra (152.7 per cent) and Chhattisgarh (150.1 per cent).

The CHRI analysis also said the prison population in the country has increased by 14.1 per cent in the last five years, while prison capacity has only increased 10.1 per cent. The percentage increase for undertrials is 17.16, while that for convicted prisoners is 7.4 per cent.

Manipur had the worst undertrials-to-prison population ratio of 86.5 per cent, followed by Meghalaya (84.2 per cent), Jammu and Kashmir (83.2 per cent) and Delhi (82 per cent).

Overall, between 2015 and 2019, Sikkim saw a jump of 59.4 per cent in prison population, while J&K registered 57.6 per cent. Thirteen states showed an increase in prison population, while only Nagaland and Andhra Pradesh showed a decline.

Other important observations

In 2019, the total number of women prisoners was 19,913, or 4.2 per cent of the total prison population. But the number of women staff in prisons is 7,794, or 12.8 per cent of the total staff. Only 15 states/UTs have women’s prisons, with the highest number (seven) being in Rajasthan.

The CHRI analysis also dwelt on the education profile of the prisoners, and found that one-third of them are illiterate, 41.6 per cent haven’t completed class 10, while 21.5 per cent have finished matriculation but not class 12.

Also read: How prison populations can be protected from Covid-19


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