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Prison Reform

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Prison Reform

Prison system has been an important aspect for keeping societies safe. However, it requires continuous regulation and supervision. Prison system needs to be able to take proper care of inmates and plan for their rehabilitation and reintegration after they have served their sentences.

Prisons system in Nepal are crammed full and poorly managed. Number of inmates incarcerated in the prisons is terribly higher than that of the capacity of existing prisons- some housing prisoners double or triple their capacity. Many findings have shown that prisoners are living under ‘inhumane conditions’ emphasizing the urgent need to improve the living conditions to ensure “human dignity” of those living there. Prisoners in most of the prisons are struggling for decent living space and timely health care, simply because of overcrowding and the conditions of detention are extremely poor.

Nepal’s Prison Act was formulated more than six decades ago (Nepal Prisons Act 1962), followed by many amendments. However, none of the provisions in the act has been properly implemented and many need further amendments. At present, the Department of Prison Management governs the management and administration of prisons at central level and the Chief District Officer is responsible for local levels. This implication challenges the fundamental principle of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) demanding the urgent need for prison reform in Nepal. The Prison Management Procedure, 2016 enacted by the Government of Nepal has specified additional duties, responsibilities and conduct of civil servants and security personnel with respect to internal administration of prisons. The concerned jailer has to carry out monitoring and supervision on regular basis to ascertain whether the jailbirds are enjoying service and facilities to be provided by the government.

Therefore, it has become imperative to measure the actual situation of prisoners and their day-to-day lives (including their safety and security) in prisons of Nepal, explore measures to improve security situation for both prisoners and personnel working in the prisons, and make advocacy for overall prison reform.

Photo Source: Department of Prison Management, Nepal