Comparative study of Prison System in India with U.K and U. S. A

Comparative study of Prison System in India with U.K and U.S.A

The present prison system of our country is a gift of the British rule. In Medieval India, the condition of the prison system was as similar as the system in Ancient India. London is known as the birthplace of modern imprisonment. A Philosopher named Jeremy Bentham was against the death penalty and thus he created a concept of prison that would be used to detain prisoners as a form of their punishment. The current prison population in India is about half a million (466,084) out of which the majorities (70%) are under-trail prisoners. Out of this, over 53% of the prisoners are Dalit, Muslim and Adivasis. According to Prison Policy Initiative, out of 331 million total populations in the U.S, over 77 million have criminal record, 4.9 million have formerly incarcerated and over 113 million adults have a family member who has ever been to prison.


A well-organized system of prison is known to have existed in India from the earliest times. It’s on record that Brahaspati laid great stress on imprisonment of convicts in closed prisons. Kautilya in his Arthashasthra has stated that rulers in ancient India made frequent use of fortresses to lodge their prisoners. During Hindu and Mughal period, the object of punishment was to deter the offenders from repeating the crime and thus the forms of punishment were according draconic. The prisoner were ill-treated, tortured and subject to most inhuman treatment. The British rule in India marked the beginning of penal reforms. British prison authorities made strenuous efforts to improve the conditions of prison and prisoners.

The emergence and changes in the modern prison system are the result of different commissions appointed from time to time. Lord Macaulay arrived in India, as a member of India law commission and was of the opinion that, the best criminal code be of very little use to a community unless there be a good machinery for the infliction of punishment. The constitution of India guaranteed every person right life and liberty and he can’t be deprived from it unless there is due process of law. This article is directed towards the prison administration of India, especially the treatment of prisoners, and an insight into the prison administration in USA , UK.

Until the late 18th century, prisons were used primarily for the confinement of debtors, per
The constitution of India and the prison technique code gives some essential rights to the individual being captured. In India, our legal system always presumed that whoever be accused of any crime being innocent until or unless the crime will not be proved against him. Our Indian constitution has given rights to the entire citizen of India including the accused. The biases in justice systems lead to injustice in society and therefore an unpeaceful Environment which can be detrimental to sustainable development because peace is a key Component of sustainable development and a healthy business environment is important for Development, but in some communities, business operations are disrupted due to the unreliable, Social services and the prevalence of social problems such as poverty, hunger and inequality. These problems have been created due to excessive policing and insufficient investment in Housing and education in these communities like the slum areas in India like Mumbai (42%), Andhra Pradesh (35.7%), Chhattisgarh (31.9%), etc. (KAY JOHNSON, Associated Press, 2016) or predominantly black neighbourhoods in America like Atlanta (54.0%), Augusta (54.7%), Baltimore (64.3%), etc.

During Vedic period administration of a justice was not a part of the state duties. In this period offences such as theft, murder and adultery are mentioned but there is nothing which designate that the king or an authorised person as a judge have power to pass any judicial judgement either in criminal or civil cases. Even in the sutras and Shastra’s we rarely come across the word prison or jail.
The present scenario regarding our prison system has changed a lot compared to ancient and medieval times. In ancient times, imprisonment was prevalent but they were used only for the detention of the wrong-doer till his trial or the judgment delivered. It was believed that imprisonment was the easiest means of punishment. The prison system was not a regular mode of punishment in ancient India. At this time, there were no such penal laws that were followed. Society’s law and peace solely depended on the principles of Manu. In medieval India, the condition of the prison system was as similar as the system in ancient India. During this time, the Quran was considered the source of law. The system of differentiating crime was prevalent. Crimes were divided into three different groups i.e. crime against god, crime against state, and crime against private person. Here also, the prisons were only used for detention.

There is lack of strong legislations for those people who are staying in the prisons who also have the right to live with dignity and also entitled for basic respect like all other citizens of the country.There are many instances in which prisoners have been subjected to inhuman conditions or treatment and deprived of basic needs such as proper food and proper sanitary conditions. Prison should help in reforming humans instead of only punishing them. Reforms only be brought in society when criminals get the right chance of improvement. If a person commits crime that does not means that person stops from been a human being or becomes non- human he cannot deprived from personal liberty.Prison and their administration is a state subject covered by item number 4 under the state list of seventh schedule of Indian Constitution. State government has exclusively power related to the management and administration of prison. It is governed by the Prison Act 1894 and the prison manuals of the respective state governments. The state has primary role and responsibility and authority to change the current prison laws, rules and regulations.

The legal system of the India is always based on the non violence, mutual respect for each other and treating other human with dignity. If a person commits crime that does not means that the person stops or barred from been a human being or becomes a non- human or non-person, he cannot deprived from personal liberty. The prisoners are also entitled for the human rights because torture is a confession to the failure of the justice system.
Article 21 of the Constitution of India guarantees personal liberty and prohibit all kinds of inhuman, cruel and degrading treatment towards any person whether an Indian national or an alien. The violation of this Article would attract the article 14 of the Constitution of India which talks about the right to equality and equal protection under the law. The rights of prisoners are covered under the Prison Act, 1894.

Next Step in Prison Reforms: Jail administration in India being an important part of the criminal Justice system has suffered neglect and lack of recognition. A lot has been talked about the police, a Little less about the courts and almost nothing about prisons and prisoners. The problem of prison Administration needs to be highlighted to focus public attention on this very vital sphere of social Concern. Following are some of the measures which may be undertaken to lighten the stress upon Prison administration and to ensure real prisons rather than the “dark and light corners” institutions: Model prison system must be developed ensuring basic uniformity in the prison rules across the Country. For this purpose, jail administration must be transferred to the concurrent list of the Seventh schedule to enable the union government to come up with model legislation which states May adopt after necessary modification.

In October 2013, the detainment pace of the United States of America was the most elevated in the world, at 716 for every 100,000 of the public populace. While the United States speaks to about 4.4 percent of the total population, it houses around 22 percent of the world’s prisoners. Corrections (which incorporate detainment facilities, prisons, probation, and parole) cost around $74 billion in 2007 as indicated by the U.S.
Capture, putting off an individual in guardianship or under limitation, typically to urge submission to the law. On the off chance that the capture happens throughout criminal strategy, the motivation behind the limitation is to hold the individual for the answer to a criminal allegation or to keep him from carrying out an offense. In common procedures, the intention is to hold the individual to an interest made against him.
USA had nearly two million people confined in its prisons or jails, representing ten or twenty times more of its population behind the bars than most of other post-industrial nations. This history of prisons in USA helps to understand the paradox of a country that pride itself on being the citadel of individual liberty yet imprisons more of its citizens than any other nation in the world. This massive use of imprisonment has made American society dependent upon prisons economically, politically as well as socially.


In U.S.A in 2016, the Prison Policy Initiative assessed that in the United States about 2,298,300(2.3 million) individuals were detained out of a populace of 323.1 million. Accordingly, 0.71% of the populace was in the slammer. Of the individuals who were trailed, around 1,351,000 individuals were in state jail, 646,000 in nearby prisons, 211,000 in government penitentiaries, 34,000 in youth remedial offices, 33,000 in movement detainment camps, 14,000 in regional penitentiaries, 5,500 in common responsibility, 2,400 in Indian nation correctional facilities, and 1,400 in the United States military prisons. In USA 23 Lakhs (2.3 million) individuals are captured in a year in a 330million (33 Crore) population and India, it is around 8.7 million of every 1300 million (130Crores). Thus 0.67% of the population have been captured in India during the year in the correlation of 0.71% of the US population.

1078 | The construction of the “White Tower” of London, built by William the Conqueror following the Norman conquest of England. The Tower was first used as a prison for enemies of the king in about 1100.
1166 | The Assizes of Clarendon, a series of ordinances through which Henry II ordered sheriffs of every county to build gaols to keep in safe custody those accused of felonies (serious crimes) until they could be tried by the newly created itinerant royal judges (justices of the assize).

From about the 12th century, the obligation to establish and maintain a gaol in order to keep the peace was included in royal charters granted to towns. These gaols were the responsibility of the towns’ corporations (or governing bodies).| Imprisonment for debt, previously confined to those who owed money to the crown, was extended to those who owed money to private individuals.

1556 | Bridewell Hospital in London became a ‘house of correction’ for idle apprentices, rogues and vagabonds, disorderly women and petty offenders. The idea of the bridewell or house of correction to manage social problems associated with poverty spread across England and Wales, so that be the early 1600s there were approximately 170 such institutions.

Not only did the bridewell foster the use of sentences of imprisonment for petty offenders, but it also introduced the notion of ‘reform’, that imprisonment could be used not just to punish but to transform criminals or the socially deviant into more productive members of society.

1777 | The publication of John Howard’s State of the Prisons in England and Wales, which exposed the appalling conditions in many gaols and houses of correction in Britain, and spearheaded a movement for the reform of prisons. Howard’s efforts were mirrored by those of Jeremiah Fitzpatrick in Ireland.

1779 | The passing of the first Penitentiary Act , which contained a blueprint for prison construction and a new regime of imprisonment. The national penitentiaries proposed by the legislation were not built, but the Act triggered a wave of local prison building and renovation: during the 1780s and 1790s, approximately 60 prisons were either built or substantially rebuilt. The Act also enabled judges to sentence felons to terms of imprisonment as an alternative to transportation.

1816 | Millbank, the first state penitentiary in Britain, opens. Convicted male and female felons are sent to Millbank to serve long sentences of imprisonment as an alternative to transportation. In the same year, Elizabeth Fry began to visit Newgate Gaol on a regular basis, and to embark on a programme to reform female imprisonment at that institution, and the Society for the Improvement of Prison Discipline in Britain was established.

In the United Kingdom, for example generally about one-fifth of the prison population is unconvicted or , while more than two-thirds of those in custody in India are pretrial detainees. In the United States the idea was first implemented at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia in 1829. Each prisoner remained in his cell or its adjoining yard, worked alone at trades such as weaving, carpentry, or shoemaking, and saw no one except the officers of the institution and an occasional visitor from outside. This method of prison management, known as the “separate system” or the “Pennsylvania system,” became a model for penal institutions constructed in several other U.S. states and throughout much of Europe.

Prisoners are distributed among a variety of types of institutions. Most countries operate national prison systems that are supplemented by state or provincial counterparts. In the United States, for example, criminals sentenced for federal offenses are held in institutions of varying levels of security operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The majority of prisoners are held in state institutions, some of which house several thousand inmates in high-security facilities. Prisoners who have been charged with minor offenses, or who are serving short sentences, are most commonly held in municipal jails. In countries with a federal system of government, such as Brazil, Germany and India, prisons are administered not by the national government but by individual states.

According to the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) data obtained through the Organized Crime Group Mapping project, Albanians were the UK’s largest foreign-born criminal group, followed by Pakistanis, who are largely thought to be involved in the wholesale supply of heroin brought in from Afghanistan via British ports.

“The vast majority of members of organized crime groups in the UK are British. The data is an important tool to help measure risk, avoid duplication of work between law enforcement partners and helps inform government,” an NCA spokesperson said. It also showed that 131 Indians, 141 Somalis, 78 Poles, 47 Sri Lankans and 44 Nigerians were among the active gang members who had changed their nationality. As per the detailed figures obtained by ‘The Times’, under the “current nationality” category, the number of Pakistan-born people involved in organized crime has reduced by almost half as out of 860 gangsters, about 393 have gained British or European Union nationality, as a result, Pakistanis on the list dropped to fourth place.

The prison system as it operates today is legacy of the British rule in our country. It was the creation of the colonial rulers over our penal system with the motive of making imprisonment a terror to wrong doers. The Indian criminal administration also includes prison administration. It is true to say that a man is not a criminal by birth but the social and economical conditions makes him criminal.Proper food, shelter and health care treatment must be given to prisoners by the prison authority. Prisoners should not be treated inhuman because the main motive of imprisonment is not to punish but to reform a criminal due to which he will be able to live in society normally after the completion of his punishment. The punishment system in Indian is also based on the reformative theory. There were many reforms in the Prison system in India but still there is need of some other reforms because the condition of prisoners in prison is degradable.There was also no strong legislation for the prisoners. In present days there is many cases in which prisoner suicide or murdered in the prison and he was tortured or beaten up by the prison officers and these cases are increasing day by day so there is need of proper legislation for the protection of prisoners because prisoners are also human being and they also have all rights which other citizens have. There were also needs of the more numbers of the jails or prison because the capacity of all prisons is less than the number of prisoners. Some reforms in the prison system also suggested by legislative member or the jurists.


Comparative Study of Criminal Laws in U.S.A, UK And Germany

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