Prison reform in India : The Tribune India

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Lahore, Wednesday, May 14, 1924

Prison reform in India



IN our first article on the subject published in The Tribune of the 11th, we had occasion to say that by far the most important factor that counts in the moral degradation of our long-term prisoners is the complete absence of human touch in the administration of Indian gaols. This means two things: The classification of prisoners inside the jails takes absolutely no notice of the requirements of the individual convict, the strata of society from which he comes or of his antecedents. Secondly, no attempt is made on the part of the jail staff to combine in their treatment of convicts discipline with kindness, firmness with gentleness, and forgiveness for petty human failings with strict justice. It is not, unfortunately, for the prisoner as well as for society to which he returns after serving his term of imprisonment considered any part of the duty of warders, jailors and jail superintendents to watch the lives of their charges with a view to reclaiming them and giving them again a chance to rise above their circumstances. The prisoners are looked down upon with loathing and contempt by those who surround them; no wonder gradually, although in most cases unconsciously, the iron enters into their souls and turns them into brutes, hardened to all feelings of shame and lost to all ideas of decency and self-respect. It has often been asserted by the authorities and their supporters that all those armchair critics who talk of abolishing the use of brute force in bringing back the criminal to a normal condition will soon revise their ideas if, but once, they were taken inside the jail and allowed to see things for themselves.


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