Towards penal humanism is the experiment with “Open Prisons”. The expression ‘Open Prison’, though it appears as a contradiction in terms, reflects the underlined philosophy of creating a microcosm of society for the prisoners, within the penal regime.Open Prison prevent incarceration of prisoners in closed cells, under unhygienic conditions, which dehumanise the cell and the soul of the convict.”Open Prisons are 78 times cheaper than the closed prisons.”-Smita ChakraburtyTo understand a prisoner, it is important to learn about his family, the circumstances of the offence, whether the offence was planned, accidental, whether committed by a onetime offender or by a hardened habitual offender.Success of the prison administration lay in evolving a system where the inmates live with minimum resentment towards their surroundings.First open prison- Durgapura Agricultural Farm Rajasthan(1955)Living with the family provides the inmate with emotional and social support and earning a livelihood, re-instills a sense of self worth in them.
It helps break social inhibitions on the part of the prisoner.A prisoner allowed the extent of liberty that comes with being in an Open Prison would not normally want to loose it and be a fugitive again. Escape would imply re-arrest and then face life back in confinement of a traditional prison.The Open Prisons of Rajasthan are called “Open Camps”, because there is no element of confinement in this system.
Open Prisons System of Rajasthan fall among the best prison practices in the country. It is cost effective, it leads to social reintegration of the prisoners, it leads to reduction in prison over-crowding, rate of recidivism is negligible under this system and most importantly it is a humane system, which upholds the right to life and dignity of the prisoner.There are thousands of prisoners languishing in closed prisons of Rajasthan, who are eligible for stay in open prison. But the prisoners could not be shifted to the open prison, due to non-availability of seats.
Menial labour extracted under sub-human conditions leads to extreme exhaustion and psychological subjugation.1877 – 1st Prison Discipline Committee was constitutedThe practice of taking out prisoners from prison and making them work was also practiced by feudal lords and jagirdars. But prisoners used as bonded labour were treated as slaves. Labour was utilized as cheap rather unpaid labour, extracted out of chained prisoners.Sitarganj in Utter Pradesh, had the 1st Open Prison. But in reality it cannot be called an Open Prison because prisoners isolation.It was initially a practice which was later converted into rules. Prisoners with long sentences gradually got estranged from their marital partners.
The fear of losing liberty which the prisoner got from staying in Open Prison prevented them from escaping. The liberty he got for being allowed to stay in Open Prison was hard earned, which one would not want to lose.