Prison Reform – UPSC Ethics

Analyse the linkages between prison reforms and reforms of prison inmates. Are there any alternatives to prisons to reform criminals? Critically comment. (200 Words)

Prisons should not only be punitive in nature but also act as a reformist. The following elements must be kept in mind while analysing the purpose of prisons
  1. The inmates must not see imprisonment as end of life but rather take this as an opportunity to reform.
  2. Prisons must open avenues for vocational learning as well as education through correspondence courses.
  3. Recreational activities e.g. celebration of sports day etc. must be included in the yearly events.
  4. Stress releasing activities e.g. yoga, meditation must be practised by the inmates. Kiran Bedi ran a similar program in Tihar jails
  5. They should not turn out to be hardened criminals when they come out of prisons
The sole objective of the prisons is to make the inmates more productive and responsible members of the society.
Certain prisons allow periodic visits to other places etc. in case of life imprisonment if the conduct of the inmate is impressive. However, completely eliminating the idea of prisons might not be a practical solution for the time being. The prisons can only provide the legal and punitive solutions to the crimes and malpractices but it is the society that needs to reform to make the importance of prisons less and less.


Many a times, due to the fault of investigating agencies, innocent men and women end up serving many years of jail-term, hence losing many years of their precious lives. In such situations, how to recompense a person for years of wrongful confinement in jail? What are the ethical issues involved here? Critically examine. (150 Words)
Ethical issues involved here are:
  1. How to recompense people for their lost productive years, the loss of dignity and the stigma attached ?
  2. How to resurrect the lost faith of common man in the judiciary ?
  3. How to make these agencies less prone to errors and make them adher to human values of empathy and compassion ?
While the lost years cannot be reversed, following steps could be taken:
  1. An open apology in media,
  2. Monetary compensation and
  3. A government Job according to their skills
The best compensation however would be to see that such a travesty of justice in not repeated in future and thus the lost faith of people in judiciary is restored- a system of checks and balances, code of ethics and conduct, system of parliamentary oversight, maintaining Independence of such agencies would go a long way towards serving the cause.



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