Open Prisons: Bangladesh & other countries

6.1 Origin of Open Prison:

The object of Prisonisation is to eliminate criminals from society and reform and rehabilitate the offenders through an institutional treatment. We must consider after care service for released prisoner very strongly. It will help such person to rehabilitate in society. “As a part  of correctional service  it presupposes active help and guidance to the discharged prisoners through counseling and surveillance. The process has, therefore, been called ‘the released person convalescence” The system of parole as a corrective measure and rehabilitative process has now been expanded in the form of open jails and open air camps in recent years.

History of open jail in short

The concept of open prison is new one has changed the view of traditional prison system.In the late 19th century, a semi-open prison institution called the Witzwill establishment was set up in Switzerland. Open prisons in modern sense were ,however, established, in UK in 1930’s  and in USA around 1940’s .

6.2 Definition of Open Prison

The United Nations Congress on Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders held in Geneva in 1955, however made an attempt to define an open prison  thus:

“An open institution is characterized by the absence of material and physical precautions against escape such as walls, locks, bars and armed-guards etc. and by a system based on self-discipline and inmates sense of responsibility towards the group in which he lives”.

6.3 Open Prison in USA

During the 19th century open air prisons were in existence in America in the name of prison farms. The convicts who were nearing the end of their sentence were generally transferred from conventional prison  to these open firms in forests as labourers.But it was not welcomed cordially by the prisoners, because the prisoners were treated as slaves. Then the system of open prison has changed and it enter into modern era. The greatest service done to prison community under the system of open air institution was to develop self reliance and self confidence among the prison inmates by resorting to minimum security measures.

6.4 Open Prison in Netherlands

In Netherlands,open prisons were established at Roermond, Hoorn and Warnsveld in 1957 , 1959 and 1962, respectively. These were meant to serve as a traditional place within the frame work  of pre-release treatment between the period of prisoners detention  in a closed institution and his return to free life The inmates of these open prisons are allowed to mingle freely with members of society while at work as also during leisure. The number of inmates in each of the institutions is limited to a maximum of twenty five so that their individual progress can be conveniently watched by competent supervisor.

6.5 Open Prison in France

France has an open prison institution in Casabianca and a semi open Institution Oermingen. The inmates in this institutions go for work as free workers without any supervision and they return to the prison every evening or during non working days.

6.6 Open Prison in India

One of the most remarkable problem in prison of India is overcrowding. But this scenario is varied from prison to prison. To solve such problem Indian penologist are searching the alternative of traditional prisonisation.It is the matter of concern of the penologist that the traditional prisonization cannot prevent the criminals from doing criminal work.Such prisonisation creats a lot of problems in prison.It has been observed by the Supreme Court othat overcrowding in prison is not constitutionally impermissible, there is no doubt that it contributes to a greater risk of disease,higher noise levels.Yet another baneful effect of overcrowding is that it does not permit segregation among hardened criminals and first offenders who are generally corrigibles.The result may be that hardened criminalmay spread their influence over others. So open air camps have been used as one of the best tools for rehabilitation of offenders in society.The first Indian open Air camps was established in 1954 at Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh.


Prisoners Rights & Human Rights

7.1 Prisoners Rights:

A convicted prisoner cannot claim his or her all fundamental rights like other persons. But prisoners have some rights which cannot be curtailed. Because the Bangladesh Constitution has laid some Article guarantying some rights as fundamental rights for all its citizens and  Bangladesh  is committed under the ICCPR, among others, to treat “all persons deprived of liberty with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person,” to segregate under trial prisoners from convicts and juveniles from adults and to bring prisoners as speedily as possible to trial. The High Court of Madhya Pradesh in S.P. Anand Vs. State of Madhya Pradesh, “has dealt with the basic rights which are available to prisoners despite curtailment of their right to liberty.” But Bangladesh Government has failed to maintain the standard of ICCPR regarding prisoner’s rights. It is  not possible for Bangladesh to maintain all rules at a time because of our shortage of money. But we can ensure minimum standard. According to Mr. Karzon,“prison authorities in Bangladesh have failed to satisfy the Standard

Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners set by the United Nations. Food is generally

insufficient and of low quality. The water supply is inadequate and has to be secured from a

container located in the bathing area of prisoners outside their cells”

The UN Standard Minimum Rules for Treatment of Prisoners  requires states to observe the fundamental principles of security of life, health and personal integrity, non-discrimination in the treatment of prisoners, and to create conditions that allow for prisoners to adjust and integrate into normal community life .

“Prisoners are human beings. In most cases they are also citizens of this country, “subjects of the Queen ‘and ‘’electors’’ Under the Constitution. They should ,so far as the law can allow ,ordinarily have the same rights as all other persons before this Court. They  have lost their liberty whilst they are in prison.However,so far as I am concerned, they have not lost their human dignity or their right to equality before the law.’’

Prisoners’ rights are limited. For the most part, jail and prison inmates demand only a “minimal civilized measure of shelter.” Generally, courts follow three basic principles when deciding whether to recognize a particular right.

  1. First, an inmate necessarily gives up many rights and privileges enjoyed by the rest of society,
  2. Second, an inmate’s does not relinquish all constitutional rights upon placement in prison,
  3. Third, the constitutional retained by the prison inmate must be balanced against the security concerns of the prison. “Since the liberty of a prisoner is constitutionally curtailed due to his confinement, his interest in the limited liberty left to him becomes all the more substantial.”

The established rights of prison inmates include:

Freedom of speech and religion; Freedom from arbitrary punishment on the sole basis of beliefs, religion,or racial and ethnic origin; Freedom from constant physically restraints; essentials for personal hygiene and opportunity to wash; clean bedding; adequate clothing; adequate heating, cooling, ventilation and light; and adequate nutrition.

7.2 Prisoner’s Human Rights:

Article 10 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that

  1. All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.
  2. The penitentiary system shall comprise treatment of prisoners the essential aim of which shall be their reformation and social rehabilitation. Juvenile offenders shall be segregated from adults and be accorded treatment appropriate to their age and legal status.

Prisoners are the members of our society. They are in confinement for the offences they have committed. Nevertheless they are entitled to enjoy the human rights as applicable for other people subject to some restrictions imposed by the law. The reasons for ensuring human rights of prisoners are-

             Human rights are inalienable and must apply to all human beings without exceptions.

             A prisoner should get human rights in order to learn how to respect the human rights of others.

             No person is criminal by birth. Crime is the reflection of the failure of society and by restoring human rights of prisoners the society corrects its own failure and ensures proper socialization of prisoners.

             Curtailment of liberty is a punishment. So a prisoner cannot be punished more by debarring him from human rights.

             Treatment of criminals is one of the tests of civilization of the country, so by maintain human rights of prisoners we can contribute to the positive development of civilization.

Persons in the detention retain all rights except those that have been lost as a specific consequence of deprivation of liberty.

The following rights must be ensured for the prisoners:

7.2.1 Maintaining Human Dignity:

The dignity of prisoners must be protected. It includes-

             From admission to discharge prisoners should be treated in a humane and dignified manner,

             Use of force must be restricted and physical and mental torture must be justified,

             Prisoners must be informed their rights and obligations and other relevant regulations,

             Standard for the accommodation, hygiene, clothing and bedding, food and exercise must be maintained.

7.2.2 Health Rights Of  Prisoners:

Health Rights Of Prisoners include-

Prisoners should be examined by medical officer at the very first day of his admission and prison authority should supply all necessary things for a prisoners advised by the medical officer ,Proper health care including specialist treatment should be provided on regular basis Medical personnel should be available and well trained, There must have proper treatment for the sick person.

7.2.3 Safety in Prisons:

prisoners must be a safe place to live in. For that purpose-

             Prisoners should be classified according to risk and  kept accordingly,

             Instruments of restraint shall never be applied as punishment

             there should be a balance of  physical, procedural and dynamic security;

             Prisoners should not be used in a disciplinary role for other prisoners.

7.2.4 Communication with Outside World:

Prison is a part of community and the inmates must not feel that they are isolated from others. For this purpose-

             Prisoners should be located in prisons close to their homes;

             Prisoners should have ample facility to communicate with the family members, friends and other members of the community;

             Prisoners should have access to books, newspaper, radio and television.

7.2.5 Complaints and Inspection:


             Should have access to an effective complaints procedure within the prison to higher authorities in the administration or to an independent body or court;

             Complaints should be handled with fairness, speed and sensitivity and without fear of reprisal

             Internal inspections of prisons should be a routine work;

             Prisons should open to public scrutiny by independent inspection teams.