Discuss the prison administration system of Bangladesh. What are the recommendations you suggest in order to improve the prison administration system of Bangladesh

  1. Introduction    

     The prison administration system of Bangladesh is not well enough compare to western countries. The prison administration system is relatively weak in Bangladesh. Prison is administered by the state and is used to house convicted criminals for periods of much longer duration. Prison is a part of a larger penal system which includes other aspects of criminal justice such as courts, law enforcement, and crime labs.

A prison is a place in which people are physically confined and, usually, deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Imprisonment [1]or incarceration is a legalpenalty that imposed by the state for the commission of a crime. A prison system is the organizational arrangement of the provision and operation of prisons.

Prison administration system of Bangladesh is not good in terms of overcrowding, delays in judicial proceedings, living conditions in prison, the operational environment and management of prisons, and infrastructure and facilities.

In order to improve prison administration system of Bangladesh we have to take certain steps such as- increase better living condition of prisoner’s accommodations, adequate protection of women and child prisoners, adequate vocational training and facilities etc.

The present system and practices of prison administration were established during the 200-year period of British domination, which ended in 1947. From 1947 to 1971, when Pakistan administered the country, no improvements were made, so that imprisonment today means punishment without training or social rehabilitation.

Government should modernize the present system; it must make the prison service more attractive to potential recruits by providing better pay and higher job status to prison personnel. Recruitment practices should be changed so that background checks are performed and only candidates with good social and academic backgrounds are accepted. In addition, candidates should be required to pass written psychological, sociological, and personality tests.

The origin of jail administration based on a comprehensive law dates back to 1864, When the government of Bengal framed a detailed jail code[2]. Until 1864, jail administration was carried out by means of sporadically issued circular letters and general orders. There had been in effect no uniformity in the jail procedure. However, The Bengal Jail Code of 1864 developed in the subsequent years into a compendium of rules and regulations issued from time to time and meant for the superintendence and management of all the jails, including the subsidiary jails, throughout the province. It comprised two parts, The Bengal Jail Code and The Bengal Subsidiary Jail Code.

The 64 prisons in Bangladesh can be divided into two major types:-

Central Jails- central jails are for the confinement of prisoners under trial, administrative detainees and convicted prisoners sentenced to a term of imprisonment, including imprisonment for life, and the death sentence.

District Jails- district jails are located at the headquarters of the district, are used for the confinement of all categories of prisoners, except those convicted prisoners whose sentence exceeds 5 years. District jails also hold long-term convicted prisoners if ordered by the Inspector General of Prisons/Deputy Inspector General of Prisons

 2. Problems In The Prison Administration System of Bangladesh:

     The problems that Bangladesh prison administration system has:

  • Inadequate medical facilities inside prisons.
  • Lack of monitoring of prisons.
  • Lack of welfare measures and reform programmed.
  • Corruption in tendering contracts and interviews.
  • Inadequate attention to women and child prisoners.
  • Inadequate vocational training facilities.


     The living conditions of prisoners in jails are unhygienic. This is due to overcrowding of the prisons with the large numbers of under trials. Two types of accommodation are available in prisons: cell accommodation[3] and accommodation in association wards[4].


     Prisons still follow the outdated statute books of the British colonial rulers, which were framed in the 19th century. According to these old statutes, the main objective of the prison system was the confinement and safe custody of prisoners through suppressive and punitive measures. There has been no significant modification in the jail code, nor have the vital recommendations of the Jail Reform Commission been implemented.


      The recruitment and training procedures of prison officers and staff under existing rules and procedures are insufficient for the needs of prisoners. Prison services in most developed countries are considered to be quite advanced as correction officers are educating offenders, as part of the effort to facilitate the reform and eventual reintegration of prisoners into society. This contrasts with the prison system in Bangladesh, which is geared towards containment and punishment of prisoners, and does not facilitate their reform. Hence, prison officers and staff are not recruited with appropriate skills nor trained adequately to encourage reform.


     The irregularity of monitoring visits can be detrimental to the rights of prisoners. It is also evident that complaints against prison staff from prisoners to inspecting officers and visitors often result in maltreatment, thus worsening the conditions in prison even further. Hence, few prisoners currently dare to complain to inspecting officers.


     Welfare measures for the benefit of prisoners are extremely inadequate. There are no trained social welfare officers in prisons to investigate physical aspects such as food, clothing, medical care, sanitation, and water supply within the prisons. There are no trained social workers or psychologists to provide for the psychological needs of prisoners.


     The confinement of male and female prisoners in the same jail without separate areas is harmful to women who are more easily subjected to physical and sexual abuse. Serious violations have occurred in the past, such as in Khulna Jail, during the 1980s. In addition, the practice of male prisoners cooking and serving food to female prisoners is also open to abuse by the male prisoners.


     Vocational training programmed currently available in prisons include barber shop training, laundry work, woodwork, metalwork, carpet and cloth weaving, and wool knitting. However, these programmed are not sufficiently developed to cater for all classes of prisoners. Activities are allotted to prisoners by the jailer without any consideration of skills, whereas these should be assigned under supervision of the superintendent to reduce the risk of corruption.

     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 supply is generally insufficient and poor quality. The water supply is inadequate and has to be secured from a container located in the bathing area of prisoners outside their cells. Besides poor prison conditions that make the maintenance of proper health and hygienic practices nearly impossible for prisoners, hospital facilities and services inside prisons are also reportedly inadequate.

3. Recommendations: 

     How to improve prison administration system of Bangladesh-

3.1. Outdated laws and procedures concerning prisons should be amended to institute a more humane and sophisticated approach. It is important to promote the concepts of prison reform and the protection of human rights and security of prisoners based on the evidence that such treatment is more effective than retributive treatment. This is particularly true for vulnerable groups such as children and women.

3.2. There should be separate prisons for female prisoners, near the larger central and district jails. Failing this, female wards should be completely separated by a partition wall from male prisoners. It is strongly felt that there should be separate prisons for adolescent and juvenile convicts.

3.3. To improve the medical administration of the prisons, proper medical administration and equipments are recommended.

 3.4. Better monitoring of the performance of prison staff should be undertaken in order to remove anomalies existing in Prison administration.

 3.5. Formal complaint mechanisms for prisoners are recommended to reduce human security violations. All prisoners should have access to court proceedings. Prisoners should also be allowed to send complaints against prison officials directly to the Ministry of Home Affairs, without censorship by jail authorities to obtain redress of grievances and stop security violations inside prisons.

 3.6. The system of visits should be improved so that it provides checks and balances on the administration of prisons. Vulnerable groups should be able to put forward their grievances to visitors for redress. Visitors should have free access to all classes of prisoners, except political

prisoners. This will enable visitors to hear complaints from prisoners on possible security violations by prison officer’s guards, and to take them up directly with the Ministry of Home Affairs.

 3.7. The conditions for prison officers and staff should be improved. Since prison officers are working under difficult circumstances they should be allowed better scales of pay and allowances, at a par with the police.

 3.8. A reform programmed should be introduced whereby individual prisoners are given treatment based on their different needs. Vocational, academic, and religious training facilities should be made available to individual prisoners for their reform and re- socialization. Diagnosis of individual prisoner’s treatment needs is essential. More emphasis should be placed on the diagnosis of the specific problems. Such a reform programmed should include modern methods of classification of offenders through psychological, psychiatric and sociological tests. A “classification board” consisting of the head of prisons, a psychologist and technical and medical staff could be established. This should be the basis of classification system for offenders, in terms of custodial[5] and treatment considerations[6].

 3.9. Training of prison staff and the police and reforms to increase their capacity should be made a priority. The following specific recommendations should be implemented on a priority basis in phases. Financial support for these reforms should be sought from government agencies and

International organizations:

a) Establishment of staff training academy. It is strongly felt that the establishment of a “Staff Training Academy” to train prison officers and guards is extremely important. This will broaden their outlook toward the criminal justice system and teach them how to handle prisoners in a professional manner for their correction and re-socialization.

b) There is a need to increase the capacity of the police to cope with improved techniques adopted by criminals to commit heinous crimes, and the alarming rise in crime rates.

c) There is a need for modern police equipment, such as:

 i) Atomic absorption spectrophotometer, to examine explosive residues;

 ii) Eye camera, to catch eye movements;

 iii) Sound spectrograph to test with this end in view, the establishment of a “Research Institute for Police Science” is recommended.


 The overall discussion is about prison administration system of Bangladesh and how to improve the prison system in Bangladesh. Specific areas should focus such as- overcrowding, delays in judicial proceedings, living conditions in prison, the operational environment and management of prisons, and infrastructure and facilities. Reforms, particularly prison reforms to deal with human security in our prisons are difficult to achieve. However, they can be brought about if concerted efforts are made by both govt. agencies in charge of prison administration and NGOs and civil society to improve prison systems. Health and Sanitation care facilities must be improved for which the directorate of prison must have its own health services. Living conditions of the prison inmates must be updated so as to do away with the present deplorable. The present physical structures of prisons must be renovated for creating congenial atmospheres for exercising reformative programs. There should be separate prisons for the female prisoners for safety and security.

For children and babies coming with the convicted mothers at the prison there should be statutory arrangements for their growth and development. Some support from the Social Welfare Department needs to be evolved in this context.

Vocational training facilities both for males & females should be updated so that they can find job opportunities upon release.

A Counseling Unit for convicts may be instituted for keeping a close view upon them so that they can feel homely.

If we can come up with stated suggestions then we can expect better regulated prison administration system in Bangladesh.












Peter m. Carlson & Judith simon garrett (dec20,2007). Prison and jail administration: practice and theory.

Robert Johnson (2001). Understanding and reforming the prison.

[1] imprisonment is no other thing than the restraint of a man’s liberty, whether it be in the open field, or in the stocks, or in the cage in the streets or in a man’s own house, as well as in the common goals; and in all the places the party so restrained is said to be a prisoner so long as he hath not his liberty freely to go at all times to all places whither he will without bail .

[2] Jail Code consists of the provisions of Prisons Act 1894, Prisoners Act 1900, Identification of Prisoners Act 1920, Rules made under Section 59 of the Prisons Act 1894 and Rules made under Section 60(a) of the said Act of 1894 for the superintendence and management of jails and subsidiary jails respectively.

 [3] This is for classified prisoners, execution of jail punishment, segregation of confessed prisoners, and prisoners condemned to death.

[4] There are for all types of prisoners, including hardened criminals, occasional offenders, and youth offenders. Prisoners are required to sleep together in single dormitories.

[5] Classification of offenders should be according to sex; term of imprisonment; age; nature of sentence; degree of criminal tendency; and physical as well as mental health.

[6] Offenders should receive appropriate treatment, catering to individual needs in terms of vocational training, primary or higher education; therapeutic treatment; rehabilitation for those with mental or physical problems. Separate prisons should be allocated for various groups of prisoners, according to individual needs.