NEW DELHI: The problem of overcrowding in jails across the country continues to persist, reveal the latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data on prisons in India.
The overcrowding in jails persisted during 2015-2017 as the number of prison inmates grew by 7.4 per cent during the period, surpassing the 6.8 growth rate of jails' capacity to lodge prisoners in them during the same period, revealed the recently-released NCRB report, compiling data for 2015 to 2017.
The NCRB report said a total of 1,361 jails across the country had over 4.50 lakh prisoners, around 60,000 more than the total capacity of all prisons, at the end of year 2017.
It said the number of inmates exceeded despite jails' lodging capacity itself having increased from 3.66 lakh in 2015 to 3.80 lakh in 2016 and to 3,91,574 in 2017, registering a 6.8 per cent rise in the jails' housing capacity during the period.
Exceeding the growth rate of prisons' housing capacity, the number of jail inmates, however, rose from 4.19 lakh in 2015 to 4.33 lakh in 2016 and to 4.50 lakh in 2017, registering a 7.4 per cent rise over 2015-2017, the NCRB report said.
Due to the number of jail inmates rising by a rate higher than the prisons' housing capacity, the occupancy rate in jails has increased from 114.4 per cent in 2015 to 115.1 per cent in 2017, the data showed.
Of the 4.50 lakh prisoners lodged in various jails at the 2017-end, 4,31,823 were male and 18,873 female, it said.
Among states, the NCRB report revealed, Uttar Pradesh faced the steepest problem of overcrowding in its jails despite having the highest capacity to accommodate prisoners among all states.
This was UP also had the largest number of jail inmates.
Uttar Pradesh has a total of 70 jails, which together can house 58,400 prisoners, contributing 14.9 per cent of the total capacity of Indian jail to accommodate prisoners.
But with a total of 96,383 jail inmates at the end of year 2017, Uttar Pradesh had an occupancy rate of over 165 per cent, the NCRB report said.
After UP, Bihar had the capacity to lodge 39,913 prisoners in its 58 jails in 2017, contributing to 10.2 per cent lodging capacity, but it had to accommodate 40,186 prisoners.
After Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, having 123 jails, has the capacity to house 28,227 inmates, contributing 7.2 per cent to the total lodging capacity of Indian jails, but it had a total of 38,708 prisoners in 2017.
UP had the highest number of prisoners (96,383), contributing 21.4 per cent of total prisoners followed by Bihar (40,186), MP (38,708), Maharashtra (33,699), Punjab (24,048) and West Bengal (23,092) as on December 31, 2017.
These states together are contributing around 56.8 per cent of total prisoners at national level, the NCRB said.
UP has reported the highest occupancy rate of 165.04 per cent followed by Chhattisgarh (157.23 per cent) and Delhi (151.22 per cent) as on December 31, 2017, revealed the statistics.
According to the NCRB, the central jails of the country were having the highest capacity of inmates (1.74 lakh) followed by the district jails (capacity of 1.53 lakh inmates) and the sub jails (capacity of 44,577 inmates).
The highest number of inmates were lodged in central jails (2.04 lakh) followed by district jails (1.97 lakh) and sub jails (35,541) at the end of 2017, the data stated.
The NCRB, under the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, is responsible for collecting and analysing prison statistics in the country.