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24 January, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 23 January, 2019 11:29:55 PM

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Conditions of prisoners and prison cells in Bangladesh

In some cases, structural changes need to be brought for the welfare of helpless prisoners
Dr. Forqan Uddin Ahmed
Conditions of prisoners and prison cells in Bangladesh

All present, there are 80 prison cells in Bangladesh. Among them there are four central jails, 30 district jails/prisons, 27 sub-jails and 16 thana jails.

About fifty thousand prisoners are accommodated in these jails. But in reality more than one lakh prisoners live in prison cells. All prisoners are not guilty. But the majority is under trial. Besides the jails, there are many correction centres in our country and many children's and women are sent to these correction centres. From a report in 1998, we get a report of 34 children, who have been taken to Dhaka Central Jail. All 34 were not found guilty. Among the list, 24 were found innocent. The remaining alleged 10 were detained in the name of safe custody. On the other hand, among the innocent 24 were born in prison cell, just they were new born babies, of their detained mothers and remaining 20 accompanied their alleged mothers. We generally find three categories of captives in jail. The first category belongs to the convicted, the second one belongs to judicial trial and the last one is categorized as safe custody. How these people are dealt in jail and how they are treated by the jail authorities are the subjects under study.

Among the women prisoners, the rural distressed women are the majority in number who quit their rural areas and migrate to urban areas for their livelihood. Most of them are allured for a job in garments factory with a pity salary. After migration from rural to urban areas; they become the victims of crime group and crime world and ultimately taken to police custody and finally to prison cells for their safety. Thousands of prisoners are behind the bars. On top of that, the mass people's view on their condition is one of most important aspects to mall over. No matter under which circumstances the prisoners are, but they leave their family back home who have to go through some serious conditions due to their imprisonment. Very often, we hear the unusual history from jail through their relatives.

Moreover, we come to know about the sad picture of their lives through interviews and surveys of the journalists and research centres. As per the information from different sources, we find very horrible picture of living in jail. Most of the jails are over crowded where people in disproportionate figure live which is very inhuman and unhealthy. There is only one toilet allocated for a large number of people and there is no provisioning of privacy by jail code. But, there should be minimum privacy for all the prisoners out there. These types of confinement are very detrimental to the children who are kept in the jail or correction center for their future life. There are other reports of jails and correction centres, which I might focus. Sometimes, we hear that, the jail authorities do not provide sufficient food to the prisoners as they require. Whenever, any prisoners raises his/her voice, he is mercilessly beaten and finally, he/she is compelled to stop her voice against irregularities or anomalies coming form jail authorities.   

In the jails or correction centers, we hear other stories as well. There is a group of prisoners who are very dominating and desperate. They try to humiliate the newcomers or the innocent and torture them in many ways. Many a times, they illegally beat the ordinary prisoners and ask money from them. If the prisoners deny to give them money, they have to face their wrath.  Even jail police and the matron of the jails do not let the innocent prisoners sleep properly often the innocent prisoners are called out at a very ungodly hour. For that reason, they suffer a lot. But, they are supposed to be quiet. If someone tries to protest, then his/her life will be made a living-hell. There is a tendency of the jail polices using slang against the prisoners. If any prisoners fails to comply any reply, he or she will have to face difficult situations, by the punishment. Sometimes, they have been given severe punishment which is very unethical. In correction centres or in jails, a growing aged female prisoners is maltreated. She is, at times, subjected to the matter of enjoyment by the male jail prisoners, as well as the authorities. Generally, the general prisoners are directed to wash off the uniforms of the authorities and the clothes of the dominating prisoners. We are familiar with other phenomena of their miserable living. If I mention, it would never come untrue or unrealistic or unauthentic to people.

Sometimes, captives are found with single pieces of cloth. From jail, they are not afforded, or given as they demand. As a result, the prisoners have to suffer from cold in the winter season. By jail code, the prisoners are supposed to follow many visit to the correction centers on a regular basis which gives out a very negative thing, government officials or detail Magistrates do not pay a visit to the centers.  From that perspectives, the concerned authority should make convenient environment for the betterment of the prisoners. They may not be given with much more facilities but they must be given the minimum facilities so that their rights are preserved as they are human beings. In no way, cruelty should be extended to those people who are helpless too. The jail authorities should take necessary steps to boost up their confidence. The authorities should create an environment in such a way that the prisoners can live in harmony and have mutual respect for one another. Apart from these jails and correction centers, there are many shelter centers, for the shelter less and vagabond people.

These centers specially the women bound centers, later on, are turned out to be kind of brothels. The females of these centers are being assaulted on a regular basis by the male authorities. Mismanagement and corruption are visible in these centers in the name of rehabilitation. Sexual harassment, miss-management and corruption take place in these centers. Besides, all these miss-management, there are some projects taken up by the authorities for the skill development of the people in these centers. After taking part in a course, they are given certificates. But the certificates do not get due importance. Even in the practical life, they apply for any job, the certificate of these centres does not deserve proper value, because of the bad name of these centers. Though they have undergone some of the trainings arranged by those centres, but they remain undermined due to the bad name of those centers. Above all, their cases are not properly considered. As a result, they become trackless from normal life and go astray.

This sort of harassments mostly occurs based on the suspension of the police. Innocent people in the prison cell when they are not even found, guilty. Generally, jail or correction centres should do the work for correction of derailed people in their future life. So, their aspects should be dealt very consciously. Human dealings, good behavior and good dealings are very vital to give those people a normal life. So, no negligence or less care is tolerable from authority. If compromised, the institution will lose its good will and moreover people's confidence will be lost. These institutions are not successful in bringing about social balance and creating trust among the people against all disparities. So that, a trend of negative notion will be created for which society will suffer. A massive reform is a must to improve the prevailing situation.

The Social Welfare Ministry and Home Ministry of government should take pragmatic steps for reformation. In some cases, structural changes need to be brought for the welfare of destitute and helpless prisoners. Government should focus on humanitarian program and projects highlighting values, regularities and moreover, the principle of socialization. Again, sensible demonstration of equality, brotherhood, mutual understanding must be taken into consideration, as a priority case.

Otherwise, this will affect the development process of our country.  So, our prison premise should be structured not with untoward or evil frameworks or the shield of cruelty. We should concentrate on making a humanitarian Bangladesh keeping our eyes towards the fire reconstruction of our prevailing jail condition and finally making our life docile and magnificent in the global arena.  

The writer is a contributor to

The Independent   

 

 

 

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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