Bhubaneswar: The National Crime Records Bureau’s report reveals shocking information regarding the mental health of the inmates in the jails of the state. The recently released Prison Statistics for 2017 say that Odisha ranks second in the list of states with maximum number of inmates with mental illness in the country. Odisha has 91 jails including 5 central jails, 9 district jails, 73 sub jails, 2 special jails, one open jail, and one women jail.
As per the data, as many as 787 prisoners kept in the jails of the state were reportedly suffering from mental illness. Out of that, 412 convicts, lodged in various jails of the state, have been suffering from mental illness. As many as 375 under-trials were found to be suffering from some sort of mental disease.
The numbers are second highest in the country, next only to Uttar Pradesh where around 639 convicts, 515 under trials and two detunes were found suffering from mental disorder.
However, the number of prison inmates in a big state like Uttar Pradesh is much higher in comparison to the number in Odisha. Uttar Pradesh reported 96,383 prisoners in its jails which was the highest across the country in 2017. Meanwhile, as many as 15,223 prisoners were lodged in the different jails of Odisha in the year 2017. Uttar Pradesh had six times more prisoners than that of Odisha.
Around five per cent of the jail inmates in Odisha were reported to have some sort of mental disorder as against only one percent of the mentally ill prison inmates in Uttar Pradesh.
Odisha had the highest percentage of mentally ill prisoners across the country in 2017.
States like Bihar and Maharastra, which have much higher number of prison inmates, reported less number of mentally ill prisoners in the jails in comparison to that of Odisha in 2017.
Meanwhile, speaking to Orissa POST, a top source in the Directorate of Prisons and Correctional Service, Odisha on the condition of anonymity said, “The most prominent reason for the number being so high could be the extremely poor living conditions in the jails across the state. That apart, most of prisons in the state have no doctors for medical counselling. No steps are being taken by the prison authorities to alleviate the stress among the prisoners who are forced to be away from their their near and dear ones.”
“The state government seems completely apathetic towards providing basic amenities to the prisoners in the state. It has also been withdrawing regular doctors and asking the department for doctors on contractual basis. Unfortunately, only Homoeopathy and Ayurvedic doctors have agreed to work on a contractual basis. No psychiatrists are available in the jails in the state. Pharmacists and other paramedical officials have been in the charge of medical counselling in the prisons. This is a gross violation of the basic human rights of the prisoners kept in various jails of the state,” lamented the officer.
According the Model Prison Manual published by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) all the medical facilities in the jails should have one Psychiatrist for regular check up of mental health condition of the prisoners.
The Manual further recommends, “Psychotherapy should be used in prisons as it has been recognised as an effective measure for the treatment of prisoners suffering from some degree of mental disorder and defects.”
It advises the states to organise various “Cultural and recreational activities in all jails for “maintaining the mental and physical health of prisoners.”
These activities are the basic elements of rehabilitation programmes for prisoners. These should form the integral part of an institutional regime,” added the manual.