Former director general of prisons, Vinoy Kumar Singh, said the prisons department in Telangana lacks a government appointed psychologist or counsellor. Representational image/PTI
HYDERABAD: Though the name of the department is ‘prisons and correctional services’, the convicts lodged in prisons across the state do not seem to have the least inclination to correct themselves, if the rising number of repeat offenders is anything to go by.
Several instances of habitual offenders have been witnessed in the last one year, wherein the police caught the individuals just days after their release from the jail. Social activists opine that prisons and jails are places to waste of taxpayers’ money if they are not doing the basic job.
Lack of rehabilitation and counselling facilities in the prisons department forces the prisoners to choose the path of crime even after being freed from jail, opine psychologists. "A majority of these repeat offenders are anxious about their future outside jail. When they meet others, and have a lot of free time inside the prison, they end up sketching crimes," said a senior officer from the city police.
On January 27, the Meerpet police arrested a burglar who was released from jail on January 7 for stealing gold and silver ornaments and gadgets worth Rs 13.10 lakh. On January 26, central crime station (CCS) LB Nagar team caught a 32-year-old man, who was released in May 2021 after being involved in 20 burglary cases, and seized Rs 1.11 lakh of stolen property from him.
In another case, the Hyderabad police nabbed Chidirika Aravind, who was arrested and jailed several times as he has been actively committing house burglaries since 2017 during every bail. After his last arrest in February 2020 by the LB Nagar police and post his release in July 2020, he worked with several companies in the service industries and from October 2021 till January 13, he committed burglaries in the limits of SR Nagar and Sanathnagar police stations and stole a bike from Madhapur.
To eradicate ‘organised crime’, we must have an ‘organised reformation process’, said Yamuna Pathak, a research scholar, and social activist. "It is called a correctional facility but nothing of that sort is being done here. The basic ideology is to correct the criminals’ behaviour and we need to have a psychologist and counsellor to do that job. A psychologist sits and talks about what made them do what they did and also delves on their upbringing. Do we have case studies of these criminals? There is no such evaluation and introspection process and no fact sheet is being maintained. There is absolutely zero evaluation," she said.
Mindset of convicts, especially in grave offenses, should be dealt with delicately and a procedural approach is needed to reform them, according to Dr. Priyanka M., a psychologist. "It is always the circumstances and the past, be it upbringing, trauma or environment which change an individual. The department needs to come up with a refined model wherein a person entering a jail should be told about his mistakes and changed as a person rather than being shut in and left out," said the doctor.
Meanwhile, former director general of prisons, Vinoy Kumar Singh, said, "Incidentally, the prisons department in Telangana lacks a government appointed psychologist or counsellor."
When asked about the rise of repeat offenders, the current incharge of Telangana State Prisons and Correctional center, Jitender IPS said, "Yes, some exceptions will always be there. Generally speaking recidivism rate is very low in Telangana compared to other states."