Tamil Nadu: Tamil Nadu tops in prisons ranking due to less crowd | Chennai News

CHENNAI: Fewer overcrowded prisons, an increased representation of women among prison staff and fewer vacancies have helped Tamil Nadu’s prisons department to emerge as the number one in the country, according to the India Justice Report (IJR) 2022. For Tamil Nadu prisons department, this is a substantial jump as it was ranked 10th in IJR 2019 and sixth in IJR 2020.
“The prison occupancy rate in Tamil Nadu as of December 2021 was 76.4%. Fifteen of the total 139 prisons show overcrowding beyond 100%,and two show an occupancy beyond 150%. This is well within its limits,” said Valay Singh, project lead, India Justice Report – initiated by Tata Trusts in 2019.
Amaraesh Pujari, DGP Prisons and Correctional Services, Tamil Nadu, said, “My aim is to change the prisons from a largely punitive institution to a reformatory one, by transforming prisons into correctional colleges.”
The report said Haryana had the highest share of overcrowded prisons. “Eighteen of its 20 prisons run at over 100% capacity, 12 or 60% record an occupancy rate of more than 150%,” said Valay Singh. More than half of the prisons in states/UTs are overcrowded.
Stating that the number of undertrial prisoners has consistently increased over the years, he said that in 2021 undertrials accounted for 77% of the entire prison population in the country.
Except for Tamil Nadu and Chandigarh, no other state/UT meets the benchmark of at least one correctional officer for 200 inmates. “This was made possible as Tamil Nadu prisons department has cut down correctional staff vacancy from 34% in December 2019 to 15% in December 2021,” he said.
The representation of women among the prison staff has also increased in Tamil Nadu over the past few years. However, Karnataka was the only state where women constituted 32% of total prison staff. “In Tamil Nadu it is 14.1% in 2021 as compared to 12.5% in 2020. But the number was 14.9% in 2019,” added Singh.
The IJR 2022 states that of their overall sanctioned budgets, only five states/UTs — Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, Mizoram and Tamil Nadu — utilised the entire budget. Telangana utilised 14% over and above the sum allotted to it.
Hailing the report, DGP Amaraesh Pujari said, “We are taking several measures for reformation, rehabilitation and re-socialisation of prisoners through various measures including renovation of prison libraries, introduction of audio books, skill development courses, yoga, better family-connect, provision of video call facility, free education and introduction of sports and music as therapeutic interventions.”

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