In the history of crime and punishment humanity witnessed numerous vicious acts and practices. Every glorified dynasty whether it was Mesopotamia, Greek or Roman Empire, used many inhumane punishments ranging from crucifixion, death by boiling, rat torture to gridiron and scaphism etc. In modern history it was 1215 with the signing of Magna Carta that man got the right of trail before imprisonment. Present world reforms associated with prisons first introduced in 19th century in United Kingdom. With passage of time concepts like rehabilitation and probation introduced for care of imprisoned. Now a days sophisticated world adopted the concept of cure, rehabilitation, reform and correction and left behind the ideas of retribution and vengeance.
But as developing countries, like Pakistan, are cauldron of many issues, state of incarceration is no exception. Most important dilemma of Pakistani prisons is that they are overwhelmingly overcrowded. Section 4 of the Prison Act 1894, Rules 745 to 752 and Chapter 31 of Pakistan Prisons Rules 1978 deal with accommodation and sanitary conditions in prisons. According to Rule 745, 18 square meters in a barrack and 31 square meters in a cell is the minimum area that a convict must possess, but in Pakistan’s prisons an inmate hardly gets enough space to lie. According to the report of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in 2014, there are total of 97 operational prisons in Pakistan with the capacity of 45,210 prisoners but they are holding 80,169 as claimed by Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan in 2015 and currently the has figure risen up to 90,000 without any increase in authorized capacity.
World Prison Brief’s yearly data shows a sharp difference between inmate population and capacity of jails in Pakistan.
Source: World Prison Brief http://www.prisonstudies.org/country/pakistan
Same overcrowding problem is in the case of provincial prisons
Source: Human Rights Commission of Pakistan http://hrcp-web.org/hrcpweb/data/ar14c/2-2%20jails%20and%20prisoners%20-%202014.pdf
KPK jails have the capacity of 6,601 prisoners but they are housing 10,040 in 2015. This overfilling is the main reason that Pakistan’s prisons are the hub of many concerns related to sanitary, health and food insecurity. In December 2014, 80 HIV positive and 31 AIDS patients were present solely in Punjab prisons. Nonetheless overnumbering is vital obstacle in the way of prison’s control and discipline structure. This lack of control on discipline by jail authorities over inmates leads towards riots, mutual clashes among prisoners and an overall noncompliance of prison system. According to 2014 statistics of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) there are almost 800 women in Pakistan’s jails who are facing harassment and deteriorated healthcare, leading towards suicidal depression, sleep disorder and other mental illnesses.
For responsible steps, different reform committees were commissioned throughout the history of Pakistan. First was under Col. Salamat Ullah in 1950-55, then the list goes on, counting, Prison Reforms Committee in 1985, one more under Minister for Interior & Narcotics Control in 1994, and another in 1997 etc. Several actions have been proposed by these committees comprising the amendments in laws like changing the meeting structure, allowing the possession of radio, books and pen/pencils, providing the facilities to prisoners regarding education, food, clothing medical and sanitation, as well the leniencies for the prisoners of good conduct.
For pragmatic implantation it is recommended to make the operational structure and procedure more easy, quick, frequent and fast. For this, increased share for criminal justice and judicial system in fiscal budget should be in priorities of government. New jails are the crucial need of the hour, they must be build and setup on the international footings with tight security and surveillance system and easy corporeal conditions. Initiatives must be taken for indulging inmates into skillful activities, for this, different NGOs and governmental institutions should arrange their temporary and/or permanent training centers in jails. Introduce the benevolent and civilized face of humanity to inmates through the rehabilitation process must be the foundation of incarceration system, for this, therapeutic way of rehabilitation must initiate in all prisons.
Hire more trained staff, build more prisons, focus on rehabilitation and indulging inmates in skillful activities are the grounds for a more sophisticated and civilized prison system from where useful civilians got free not more hardcore criminals.