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திங்கள், செப்டம்பர் 12, 2011

Nearly 70 die in state jails every year at Trichy, Puzhal, Cuddalore and Palayamkottai


             Over 200 undertrials have died in the last ten years in four jails in Tamil Nadu with Trichy Central Prison accounting for half of these deaths. Experts say that poor hygiene and inadequate access to medical facilities and hospitals are the main reasons for these fatalities.

             Documents provided by Tamil Nadu prison department in response to a Right To Information (RTI) query show that between January 2001 and June 2011 a total of 219 persons died in four central prisons at Trichy, Puzhal, Cuddalore and Palayamkottai. Some 105 died in Trichy Central Prison. Another nine died at the Special Prison for Women at Trichy. Response to another RTI query shows that ever year 70 to 80 inmates die in nine central prisons in the state.


          The RTI documents show that the deaths are mostly due to illness and suicide. Murder accounts for only a negligible portion of the deaths, say prison authorities.
"Though the jail administration has given generalized reasons such as heart disease, HIV and high blood pressure for these deaths, no compensation has been given to the families of the deceased. Since these people have admittedly died in judicial custody, the state government is vicariously liable to pay compensation to the victims' families," said P Pugalenthi, convenor of Tamil Nadu Prisoners Forum.

             Almost all jails in Tamil Nadu complain of inadequate medical and paramedical personnel. "Only those who are seriously ill are referred to a hospital and the process of arranging an escort for the inmate takes a lot of time. Sometimes, the delay either deteriorates the condition of the inmate or leads to death," said former special public prosecutor at human rights court, V Kannadasan.
Some experts say that deaths are also due to reluctance on the part of the jail superintendent concerned to invoke the inherent powers vested with him to release the old and the terminally ill.

              "There is a specific provision in the Tamil Nadu Prison Manual to be used in deserving cases, but it is hardly used," lamented an official who says that an 80-year-old, terminally-ill woman prisoner, Rajammal, has spent 20 years in jail. He added that she is a fit case for release. 
A top official believes that improving mental health of inmates and undertrials is the key. Additional director general of police (prisons), S K Dogra told TOI that the government had sanctioned nine posts of psychologists for the effective reformation of prisoners.

              "A person with a disturbed mind, who lacks control over his or her anger, is prone to indulge in deviant behaviour. In view of this, Tamil Nadu prison department has recently launched a project 'change the mind to change behaviour'. I am teaching meditation techniques to help prisoners acquire better control over their mind," says Dogra.




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