Telling Numbers: Prison space grows, but prisoner count grows faster, data show

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The occupancy rate in prisons has grown from 113.7% to 117.6%. (File Photo)

Since 2016, Indian prisons have increased their capacity but this has not kept pace with the growth in the number of prisoners, National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data show. The capacity of prisons has increased from 3,80,876 in 2016 to 3,96,223 in 2018 (as of December 31), or by 4.03% during 2016-2018, according to the newly released report NCRB Prison Statistics India 2018. Over the same period, the number of prisoners lodged in these jails has increased from 4,33,003 to 4,66,084, or by 7.64%. As a result, the occupancy rate in prisons has grown from 113.7% to 117.6%. Uttar Pradesh has reported the highest occupancy rate (176.5%) followed by Sikkim (157.3%) and Delhi (154.3%).

While the capacity of prisons has increased, the number of prisons has decreased by 5%, from 1,412 in 2016 to 1,339 in 2018. The 2018 count includes 628 sub-jails, 404 district jails, 144 central jails, 77 open jails, 41 special jails, 24 women jails, and 19 borstal schools. The remaining two jails are in the category “other than the above”.

2,000 kids & their mothers

NCRB data

Nearly 2,000 children were living in jails in India along with their imprisoned mothers, as of December 31, 2018. Out of 1,999 children (1,732 women prisoners), Uttar Pradesh accounted for one-fourth (509 children) while four more states accounted for another one-third. Together, jails in these five states — UP, along with Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh — had 1,201 children, or 60% of the total 1,999.

While 1,732 women prisoners had children with them, the total number of women prisoners in India was 19,242. Among them, 3,243 were in the 24 women jails and 15,999 were in other jails. In women jails, the number of prisoners was below capacity (58% of a capacity of 5,593). In other jails, which have a combined capacity of 21,668 women inmates, the 15,999 inmates represented an occupancy rate of 73.8%.

Prisoner categories

Of the 4,66,084 prisoners as of December 31, 2018, 1,39,488 (30%) were convicts and over 69% (3,23,537) were undertrials. Less than 1% comprised detenues and other inmates.

The number of convicted prisoners had increased by 2.8% from 1,35,683 in 2016. Among the states, UP had the highest number of convicts, at 28,660 or 20.5% of the total in 2018. It was followed by Madhya Pradesh (18,626) and Maharashtra (8,908).

The number of undertrial prisoners increased from 2,93,058 in 2016 to 3,23,537 in 2018, or 10.4%. Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of undertrials at 75,206, followed by Bihar (31,488) and Maharashtra (26,898) at the end of 2018.

Offences

Among the convicts were 1,22,441 who were serving terms for IPC offences. Among them, in turn, 1,04,017 (85%) had committed various offences affecting the human body while over 12,939 (10%) had committed offences against property.

Among those convicted of offences against the human body, the highest number of inmates were convicted of murder (66%, 69,165 convicts) followed by convicts of rape (12%, 12,076) and convicts of attempt to murder (8%, 8,341).

NCRB data

Nearly 20,000 convicts had committed offences against women. These offences include rape, which is also included among offences against the human body. In the category for offences against women, the 12,076 rape convicts represented 61%.

NCRB data

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