Centre prepares new Model Prisons Act with focus on reform

Source: The post is based on the article “Centre prepares new Model Prisons Act with focus on reform” published in The Hindu on 13th May 2023

What is the News?

The Union government has announced that it has prepared a Model Prisons Act, 2023 to replace the current 130-year-old law i.e., Prisons Act, 1894.

Why has the Government come up with the Model Prisons Act, 2023?

The present ‘Prisons Act, 1894’ is a pre-independence era Act and is almost 130 years old. 

The Act mainly focuses on keeping criminals in custody and enforcement of discipline and order in prisons. 

There is no provision for the reform and rehabilitation of prisoners in the existing Act.

As per the provisions of the Constitution of India, ‘prisons’/ ‘persons detained therein’ is a ‘State’ subject. 

The responsibility of prison management and prisoners administration solely vests with State Governments who alone are competent to make appropriate legislative provisions in this regard.

However, given the critical role that efficient prison management plays in the criminal justice system, the Government of India attaches a high degree of importance to supporting the States/UTs in this regard.

Hence, the Central Government has come up with the Model Prisons Act,2023.

Who has prepared the Model Prisons Act, 2023?

The Ministry of Home Affairs has assigned the task of revision of the Prisons Act, 1894 to the Bureau of Police Research and Development.

Along with Prisons Act, 1894, ‘The Prisoners Act, 1900’ and ‘The Transfer of Prisoners Act, 1950’ has also been reviewed by the Ministry of Home Affairs and relevant provisions of these Acts have been assimilated in the Model Prisons Act, 2023.

What are the key provisions of the Model Prisons Act, 2023?

Security assessment and segregation of prisoners;

Prison development board;

Use of technology in prison administration;

Protecting society from criminal activities of hardened criminals and habitual offenders;

Punishment for prisoners and jail staff for use of prohibited items such as mobile phones in jails;

Establishment and management of high-security jails, open jails;

Provisions for providing legal aid to prisoners, parole, furlough and premature release to incentivise good conduct.

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