According to the Indian Constitution, the management of prisons and administration of prisoners is the responsibility of state governments.
The new model act includes provisions for the use of technology in prison management, granting parole, furlough, and remission to encourage good conduct, ensuring the physical and mental well-being of prisoners
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Friday announced the Model Prisons Act, 2023, aimed at reforming prison management and transforming inmates into law-abiding citizens who can be rehabilitated into society. It replaces the British-era law and marks a significant step towards ensuring a more effective and comprehensive approach to prison management, an official statement read.
Under the leadership of Home Minister Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Centre has developed a comprehensive “Model Prisons Act, 2023″ to address gaps in the current Prisons Act and provide holistic guidance for prison management.
The new model act includes provisions for the use of technology in prison management, granting parole, furlough, and remission to encourage good conduct, ensuring the physical and mental well-being of prisoners, and focusing on their reformation and rehabilitation. The aim is to provide a guiding document for states to adopt in their jurisdictions and improve prison systems across the country, the government said.
The Centre has reviewed ‘The Prisons Act, 1894’, ‘The Prisoners Act, 1900’, and ‘The Transfer of Prisoners Act, 1950’ and incorporated relevant provisions from these Acts in the newly announced ‘Model Prisons Act, 2023’. “State Governments and Union Territory Administrations can beneﬁt from the Model Prisons Act, 2023 by adopting it in their jurisdictions, with such modiﬁcations which they may consider necessary, and repeal the existing three Acts in their jurisdictions,” it said.
Home Minister Amit Shah had on November announced amendments to the over 130-year-old law and had said states were involved in detailed discussions with the Centre over the amendment.
The Centre had noted that the “outdated” law had no provisions for reform and rehabilitation of prisoners as it focused primarily on holding criminals in custody and maintaining discipline and order of inmates.
According to the Indian Constitution, the management of prisons and administration of prisoners is the responsibility of state governments. However, given the crucial role that efficient prison management plays in the criminal justice system, the Indian government is committed to supporting the states and union territories in this regard, the Centre said.
Salient features of the new Model Prisons Act are:
- Provision for security assessmentand segregation of prisoners, individual sentence planning,
- Grievance redressal, prison development board, attitudinal change towards prisoners.
- Provision of separate accommodation for women prisoners, transgender, etc.
- Provision for use of technology in prison administration with a view to bring transparency in prison administration.
- Provision for video conferencing with courts, scientiﬁc and technological interventions in prisons, etc.
- Provision of punishment for prisoners and jail staﬀ for use of prohibited items like mobile phones etc. in jails.
- Provision regarding establishment and management of high security jail, open jail (open and semi open), etc.
- Provision for protecting the society from the criminal activities of hardened criminals and habitual offenders, etc.
- Provision for legal aid to prisoners, provision of parole, furlough and premature release etc. to incentivise good conduct.
- Focus on vocational training and skill development of prisoners and their reintegration into the society.