Start prison reforms, give inmates voting rights: IGP

Start prison reforms, give inmates voting rights: IGP

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Deputy Inspector General (Prisons) Roopa D Moudgil. (File Photo: IANS)
Kolkata, Jan 25 (IANS) Senior police officer Roopa D. Moudgil on Thursday said prison reforms should begin immediately in India to stop influential people from getting "VIP treatment" inside the jail.The IPS officer, who exposed special favours extended to ousted AIADMK leader V.K. Sasikala in a Bengaluru jail during her tenure as the Karnataka DIG Prisons, also called for granting voting rights to prisoners."Prisons are supposed to be levellers, but they are not. The influential people get VIP treatment even inside jails when they are not entitled to. I think this is the point from which prison reforms in India have to begin."Everyone who commits a crime does not go to jail. Many of them get filtered out if they are able to bribe the policeman or hire a good lawyer. People who land up in prison are generally poor people," Roopa said at a session titled "Jailhouse Rock" at the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet here."So, the environment of inequality that might have made the offenders commit the crime are reinforced in jails. They face the same inequalities and discrimination there. I think this trend should be broken and that should be the point of prison reforms," said the IPS officer.She has now been promoted as Inspector General of Police (IGP) and Additional Commandant General - Home Guards and Ex-Officio Additional Director - Civil Defence, Bengaluru.Referring to her own experience in various cases of influential prisoners, Roopa, who wrote in her report how Sasikala had paid a bribe of Rs. two crore to the prison officials in Bengaluru in exchange for the privileges, said "jail is like hell" for most poor people while for the rich and the influential it does not make a lot of difference to their lifestyle.She claimed that the general prisoners were neglected as they did not have voting rights. The politicians would start caring about the situation in prisons if the inmates were given the right to vote."As soon as they would get included in the vote bank, the prison reform would follow."She also said primary medical check-ups and segregation of ailing inmates were often not done in Indian prisons and these aspects should be taken up with much more seriousness and regularity as part of prison reforms."One major thing in all the jails is tuberculosis. When someone comes to jail, he is not tested and kept with others, which also increases the chance for others to get infected," Roopa said."So the best way in all the prisons is, the moment someone lands in jail, put him through all the tests including HIV. It serves a two-fold purpose: they can receive an early treatment in case of illness and in case of infectious deceases, they can be kept separate from the rest," she added.Echoing Roopa, lawyer and social activist Vrinda Grover said while there were laws and rules to protect prisoners from murder, rape or physical punishments, influential sections in the administration often resisted efforts to implement them."There are rules and laws in place but if you are going to invoke any of them, you are going to be at the receiving end. Also, there are still gaps in law. We still do not have any laws against torture in this country," Grover said."In this country, one carries one's social privileges, as well as his vulnerabilities, marginalisation and discrimination even inside the prison," she added.--IANSmgr/ssp/nir/bg

(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)

(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)

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