Maharashtra: Jails, correctional centres in State exceed max occupancy rates

The prisons department also has two separate jails for women at Pune and Mumbai, two open prisons for women at Pune and Akola, a juvenile correctional home and a jail hospital.

Dharmesh ThakkarUpdated: Monday, August 08, 2022, 11:26 PM IST
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Maharashtra: Jails, correctional centres in State exceed max occupancy rates | File Photo

All the prisons and correctional centres in the State are bursting at their seams and exceeding the maximum occupancy rates at more than double capacity leading to fights amongst the inmates for space.
Maharashtra has nine central prisons, 31 district prisons, 19 open prisons, an open colony and 172 sub-jails which has double the sanctioned occupancy creating a major challenge for jail officials to maintain law and order in the jails.

The prisons department also has two separate jails for women at Pune and Mumbai, two open prisons for women at Pune and Akola, a juvenile correctional home and a jail hospital.

The official capacity of prisoners in these jails is 24,722 but 42,727 prisoners, including 41,007 males, 1,707 females and 13 transgenders, are being kept in these jails at present.

Last week five inmates of the high security Arthur Road Central Jail in Mumbai attacked the Amravati pharmacist Umesh Kolhe murder accused Shahrukh Pathan. In April 2022, the Jail Superintendent Chandramani Indulkar was attacked by the Kolhapur prison inmate. In another incident at the Yerwada Central Jail, two inmates assaulted an undertrial with stone following a quarrel over smoking.

“Supreme Court has repeatedly said to make bail the norm, not jail. Enforcing time limits in criminal proceedings; offering bail and other alternatives to undertrials; holding ‘camp courts’ inside prisons and reforming criminal procedure so that cases are reviewed regularly and brought to a conclusion more speedily will help reduce the capacity to a large extent,” said former IPS officer-turned-legal activist YP Singh.

The occupancy rate of the prisons in India is calculated as the percentage of the ratio of inmate population to total capacity in prisons. An occupancy rate of more than 100% implies that the prisons are overcrowded and if it is below 100%, it means that the prisons are not yet filled to their capacity. By the end of 2020, the occupancy rate of the prisons in the country was 118%. Overcrowding is a bigger problem for male prisoners with occupancy rate of male prisoners is at 121.3% while compared to that of women at 72.2%.

“Prison overcrowding is one of the key contributing factors to poor prison conditions and is also the biggest single problem facing prison systems and its consequences can be life-threatening,” says a former IG of Prisons refusing to be identified. “The only effective way to reduce the burden on the prison system is to divert minor cases out of the criminal justice system and,” he further added.

Mumbai Arthur Road Central Jail and Thane Central Jail have the highest number of excess inmates. “These two jails are most in demand by the undertrials and also high profile cases of ED, CBI and Customs apart from the usual police cases as it is easier and convenient to get out of the jail for court hearings and trials. While the jails like Kalyan, Taloja etc are very far away, and also risky for prisoners to be taken out,” explained another jailor posted at Arthur Road Jail.

According to senior jail officials, the number of prisoners in jails was about 37,000 during Covid pandemic but has crossed 42,000. “Respiratory diseases like TB, flu and Covid are higher in jails because of poor hygiene and lack of social distancing in the overcrowded and poorly ventilated cells and barracks. Skin and fungal diseases are also very high. Prisoners are sexually deprived leading to sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS/HIV in the absence of any protection like condoms in jails,” says health expert Dr Ishwar Gilada.


Jail Inmates capacity

Arthur Road Central Jail

3,530 804

Thane Central Jail

4,245 1,105


Yerwada Central Jail

7,027 2,449

Kalyan Central Jail

2,107 540


Taloja Central Jail

3,332 2,124

Nagpur Central Jail

3,055 1,840

Byculla Women's Jail

366 262


Amravati Central Jail

1,500 973


Kolhapur Central Jail

2210 1,789

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