HYDERABAD: Telangana has made a rather unique record to call its own. Besides convicts and undertrials, the State has an unusually high number of persons lodged in prison cells under the Preventive Detention Act. As per the latest report by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the State’s prisons had lodged as many as 297 detenues as of 2016.
It may be mentioned that even in the year 2019, the number of detenues is at 300, indicating little change. Of the total 3,089 detenues across the country, Telangana contributes to at least ten per cent. Are these statistics pointing towards the fact that reformation programmes held at the State’s prisons are failing to yield results?
It may be mentioned here that a detenue has a past criminal antecedent and is perceived to be a disturbance in the maintenance of law and order. The person is thus remanded to be under preventive detention for a minimum period of six months.
It is, of course, the police who look after the law and order that impose the punishment of detention under the Preventive Detention Act, 1950. However, it is hard to deny that gaps are visible if one considers the aspect of reformation. Though the Prisons Department attempts to impart many personality development skills to the prisoners, this hardly seem to have much bearing.
Conceding that there are, indeed, gaps in the reformation programme for detenues, Director General of Prisons and Correctional Services VK Singh said that the department had only just started to take steps towards their reformation. “We have not done enough yet. But we are a solid footing to reform them,” he said. Singh added that there was an opportunity for effective reformation as the detenues are constantly interacting with the department. “The State’s crime rate would be reduced by half if the reformation programme is successful,” he pointed out.
Last month, the department had initiated a rehabilitation drive to reform habitual offenders. However, according to the department, up to 207 of 958 such offenders are no longer traceable. This could mean a loss of opportunity with regard to the department’s efforts towards reformation.
Number of women prisoners high as well
The number of inmates at the exclusive women-only prisons enclosure too is particularly high, when compared to other States in the country. As per the report, there were up to 7,214 women prisoners across the State in 2016. “Most of the crimes for which women are detained are family disputes. They often end up here for attacking their husbands or in-laws for various reasons,” Director General of Prisons and Correctional Services VK Singh VK Singh observed