Commenting useful for the rehabilitation of the incarcerated

Commenting on need for liberalisation of parole policy K.F. Rustomji, a Member of the National Police Commission, in one of his tour-notes described the pathetic condition of Indian prison and observed that the personality of a man behind walls and bars disintegrates under the strain of waiting for a decision in his case, or an order on his premature release from jail.

Over-crowding in prisons and increasing versality of prison torture in utter disregard of the Standard Minimum Rules for the treatment of prisoners approved by the U.N. Congress on Treatment of Offenders held in Geneva in 1955 is a serious cause of concern for those who believe in correctional penological philosophy.

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In the subsequent U.N. Congress held in London in 1960, it was stated that it should be customary that prisoners should spend later part of their sentence on parole or in open institution where they can live with their families.

One of the appropriate method for prisoners to be able to enter community and participate in constructive work is to place them in open prison or release them on parole. Of these two, a parole is perhaps more effective and popular.

Though open prisons have been found to be useful for the rehabilitation of the incarcerated prisoners but in view of its limited scope, the system of parole has proved to be a better substitute for easing the burden of prisons and reducing over-crowding of prisoners.

The release of prisoners on parole is therefore, one of the most important but at the same time, controversial devices for reducing pressure on prison institutions. It is commonly believed that a prisoner who is released from a prison institution is a danger to society. Ex-prisoners are generally feared, shunned, discriminated and exploited and therefore, they are compelled to go wicked rather than being assisted to lead an upright life.

A prisoner may be released after he has completed his full term of sentence. He is then a free person without any restraint against repeating crime. He may feel that he has paid off his debt to society and therefore, is ready to have another offence debitted to his account. Some corrective methods have been devised to bring about the rehabilitation of inmates so that they can adjust themselves to free society after their final release from the prison institution.

Parole is one such device which seeks to protect society and assist the ex-prisoner in re-adjusting himself to a normal free-life in the community. Thus, it has a dual purpose, namely, prating the society and at the same time bringing about the rehabilitation of the offender.