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Historical Perspective


Prisons in India were set up by the British regime and most of our prisons are more than one hundred years old. During the British days medical officers presided over the prisons and they took good care of the health of prisoners. The Indian Jails Committee of 1919 had made very progressive recommendations which unfortunately were never carried out. During the struggle for independence, most of our national leaders went through repeated periods of incarceration. Prison became a part of our saga of struggle for national independence. A beginning of jail reforms was made in the States with the installation of popular governments in 1937 when political leaders with first-hand experience of prison applied their minds to removing some of the rigours of the prison.

The first scientific effort at modernizing our prisons began in 1952, when the United Nations sent to India an expert, Dr. W.C. Reckless, under the U.N.Technical Assistance Programme. He studied the conditions and produced an excellent report on the ‘Prison Administration in India’. A conference of the Inspector General of Prisons was held in 1952 which made far reaching recommendations. In 1957, the Government of India appointed an All India Jail Manual Committee which worked for three years and made various important recommendations, one of which was revision of States Prison Manuals on the basis of a Model Manual prepared by the Committee. The Central Bureau of Correctional Services was set up under the Ministry of Home Affairs in 1961 to follow up the recommendations of the All India Jail Manual Committee, to collect information and statistics on a national basis, to exchange ideas with the various State Governments and with the U.N., and to undertake training, research, evaluation and encourage sound social defense policies and programmes within the country.

Several Committees have also been constituted by the Government of India to study and report about various aspects of prison reforms some of them are:

1. Model prison Manual, 1960.
2. Working group on prisons, 1972.
3. All India Jail Reform Committee 1980-83.
4. National Expert Committee on Women Prisoners, 1987.
5. All India Model Prison Manual Committee, 2000.
6. Parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women,2001-02.

At Central level, prisons are a part of the responsibility of the Ministry of Home Affairs while probation and Juvenile delinquency are looked after by the Department of Social Welfare. At the State level, there is no uniform pattern. Generally, an Inspector General of Prisons looks after the prison administration.


Prisons are an integral part of the Criminal Justice System and function as custodians of prisoners. While the purpose and justification of imprisonment is to protect the society against crime, retribution and punitive methods of treatment of prisoners alone are neither relevant nor desirable to achieve the goal of reformation and rehabilitation of prison inmates. The concept of Correction, Reformation and Rehabilitation has come to the foreground and the prison administration are now expected to also function as curative and correctional centers. It is our endeavour to make the prisons Correctional Centers. Our thrust, therefore, is on Reformation, Correction and Rehabilitation of the prison inmates and churn out reformed and better citizens from the prisons, who can lead a hon’ble and dignified life after their release. We firmly believe that often crime is a creation of compelling circumstances, unsuitable environment and emotional disturbance resulting in impulsive reactions.

Our above objective and efforts cannot succeed 100% without the active cooperation, support and participation by the cross section of the Society for which it is equally necessary to educate them to give up their inhibition and accept prison inmates, after their release, with open arms and without any stigma attached to them.

Karnataka is one of the progressive states where attempts have been made for reforming the Jail administration. We have made considerable strides towards achieving our objectives of Reformation , Correction and Rehabilitation of Prison inmates and transforming the prison into curative centers.


The Karnataka state has a total of 102 prisons of various classification with an authorized capacity of 12088 male prisoners and 1012 female prisoners totally 13100 prisoners. Out of 102 prisons, the Central Prison Bijapur is the oldest date back to 1593 A.D. Constructed during the regime of Adil Shah. Ramanagara Sub Jail is of 18th Century. 1783 A.D. and 25 Jails are of 19th Century.

All Prisons situated in Karnataka fall under the following classes:

Central Prisons(8),
District Prisons(15),
District Hq Sub Jails(4)
, Special Sub Jails(2),
Taluka Sub Jails(70(30 under Department Control and 40 under Revenue Department Control)
Borstal School (1),
Juvenile Jail (1),
Open Air Jail(1).

Following categories of prisoners confined in Central Prisons:

Prisoners Sentenced to Death
Prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment of all classes
Prisoners sentenced to a term of imprisonment exceeding 10 years of all classes
Civil prisoners
Prisoners awaiting trail in local courts
Female prisoners
Military prisoners
Juvenile prisoners

Following categories of prisoners confined in District Prisons::

Prisoners of all classes sentenced to a term of imprisonment not exceeding or unexpired portion of sentence not exceeding 6 months

Female prisoners
Civil prisoners
Prisoners awaiting trial before local courts
Military prisoners
Juvenile prisoners

Following categories of prisoners confined in District Hq Sub Jails: Special Sub Jails: Taluka Sub Jails:

Prisoners sentenced to a term of imprisonment up to 3 months in case of headquarters sub jails and up to 15days in case of Taluka Sub – jails.
Female prisoners
Prisoners awaiting trial before the local courts
Civil prisoners

Following categories of prisoners confined in Juvenile Jail , Dharwad:

All Juvenile prisoners convicted by the Courts in the State whose term of imprisonment exceed 3 months shall be confined at the Juvenile Jail Dharwad.