The Union Home Ministry wants the use of tracking devices on prison inmates during their release on parole, aiming to enhance monitoring mechanisms. The GPS-enabled device will tell the police where exactly the person is and whether he breached the conditions of his release. This proposal is a part of the Model Prisons and Correctional Services Act, 2023, which was disseminated to all the states in May. The ministry published the Act on its website for the first time on Monday. The recommendation explicitly suggests the incorporation of electronic monitoring technology. However, it is for the states concerned to adopt the technology, which has already been tried out successfully in Kashmir. This strategic integration of technology aligns with contemporary approaches to criminal justice and underscores the Centre’s commitment to ensuring robust supervision during transitional phases for inmates.
Those who violate the conditions of release will forfeit their right to subsequent paroles. Their paroles can even be cut short. Incidentally, the tracking systems are used in countries like the USA. Beyond electronic monitoring, the Act also advocates for the segregation of prisoners based on the severity of their criminal history. The call for differentiating between hardened criminals and others underscores a nuanced approach to prison management, recognising that a one-size-fits-all strategy may not be effective in addressing the diverse spectrum of offences. By highlighting the need for segregation, the Act signals a shift toward a more tailored and context-specific correctional framework. This differentiation acknowledges that the rehabilitation and monitoring requirements for prisoners can vary based on the nature of their crimes and their potential risk to society upon release.
The Act overtakes colonial-era laws that have been guiding prison management. There is a belief that jails, which are overcrowded, do not serve correctional purposes. Newcomers in jails are subjected to all kinds of ill-treatment and sexual abuse by their “seniors” which will only harden them as criminals. As there is no segregation, a person accused of murdering multiple people in cold blood is clubbed with a person who was accidentally caught for stealing. Similarly, a girl who elopes with her boyfriend is jailed along with women who have committed serious offences. As a result, the jail loses its correctional capability. The new Act should serve as a new beginning for jail reforms in this country.