New Delhi: Over 1,600 children under the age of 6 were spending time in various jails as of 2017 where their mothers are detained, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) revealed in its latest report. These children were found to be spending their formative years with their mothers, who were detained, standing trial or serving time for various offences.
Children up to the age of 6 are allowed to stay with their mothers in prisons. According to guidelines set by the Supreme Court, children below the age of 3 should be looked after in the crèche, while those between three and six should be taken care of in nurseries, preferably run by the jail authorities outside the prison premises.
However, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, which reported highest number of children inmates, 332 and 146, respectively, had no such facilities.
As of 2017, only prisons in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Chandigarh were reported to have such facilities for the children of woman inmates. However, it is not clear from the NCRB report if the facility has been made available in adequate numbers.
Till December 2017, 1,454 women with 1,681 children were lodged across various jails, the report said. While these numbers showed a marginal dip for the corresponding figures in 2016, i.e. 1,649 mothers lodged with 1,942 children, they were higher than the numbers for 2015-1,597 mothers with 1,866 children.
According to a study published in the Lowy Institute, children who grow up in prisons suffer a loss of health and isolated from the outside world. “Some incarcerated children are old enough to attend school, but instead remain invisible victims of crime, their rights violated, deprived of social and emotional security not only by the criminal activities of their parents but also the state’s actions in the name of justice," the report said.
The NCRB report has also published details of female inmates of India's prisons which show that in places like Chhattisgarh the occupancy rate of women jails is 166.4%, followed by Uttarakhand which has an occupancy rate of 155.3 percent. Uttar Pradesh which has female prison inmate occupancy rate of 114.8 is third on the list.
In the report, the NCRB has noted that overcrowding in prisons is “one of the biggest problems faced by prison inmates.” It further notes that overcrowding in prisons “results in poor hygiene, lack of sleep, etc. Keeping in view the human rights of the prisoners, it is essential that they are given reasonable space and facilities in jails.”