America’s private prison system is a national disgrace


Jill Filipovic

An ACLU lawsuit against a prison in Mississippi is the latest to detail flagrant abuses at a private correctional facility

Jill Filipovic

Thursday 13 June 2013

guardian.co.uk

The privatization of traditional government functions – and big government payments to private contractors – isn’t limited to international intelligence operations like the National Security Agency. It’s happening with little oversight in dozens of areas once the province of government, from schools to airports to the military. The shifting of government responsibilities to private actors isn’t without consequence, as privatization often comes with a lack of oversight and a series of abuses. One particularly stunning example is the American prison system, the realities of which should be a national disgrace.

Some of those realities are highlighted in a recent lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of prisoners at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility (EMCF). EMCF houses severely mentally ill prisoners, with the supposed intent of providing both incarceration and treatment. Instead, the ACLU contends, the facility, which is operated by private contractors, is rife with horrific abuses. As the ACLU states, it is

“an extremely dangerous facility operating in a perpetual state of crisis, where prisoners live in barbaric and horrific conditions and their basic human rights are violated daily.”

The complaint lists a litany of such horrors, but here are a few highlights: rampant rapes. Placing prisoners in solitary confinement for weeks, months or even years at a time, where the only way to get a guard’s attention in an emergency is to set a fire. Rat infestations so bad that vermin crawl over prisoners; sometimes, the rats are captured, put on leashes and sold as pets to the most severely mentally ill inmates. Many suicide attempts, some successful. The untreated mentally ill throw feces, scream, start fires, electrocute themselves and self-mutilate. Denying or delaying treatment for infections and even cancer. Stabbings, beatings and other acts of violence. Juveniles being housed with adults, including one 16-year-old who was sexually assaulted by his adult cell mate. Malnourishment and chronic hunger. Officers who deal with prisoners by using physical violence.

One prisoner allegedly attempted to hang himself. He was cut down by guards, given oxygen and put on supervision, but wasn’t taken to an emergency room, let alone given psychiatric care during the suicide watch. Without seeing a psychiatrist, his medication dosage was increased.

A severely ill 16-year-old with “a long history of being physically and sexually abused in addition to suffering from a traumatic brain injury, limited intellectual functioning, self-harm, and psychosis” was moved to EMCF from a juvenile detention center. His cell allegedly had a broken lock, and so other prisoners were able to enter. Five or six of them beat him. He was moved to a solitary confinement unit and, when he voiced his suicidal ideations and asked to see a psychiatrist, was deemed “manipulating to be moved”.

Another told prison mental health staff that he was depressed and thinking about about suicide. The treatment plan from the prison psychologist was reportedly three words: “encourage behavioral compliance”. After being asked to provide a urine specimen, which he could not give because of a health condition, the ACLU reports:

Mr. Roe began banging on his door, smeared blood on the cell door window, threatened to commit suicide, and tied a rope around his neck. Officers sprayed excessive amounts of Mace in his cell. According to witnesses, officers waited approximately 20 minutes before pulling Mr. Roe out of his cell. By that time, he was non-responsive and cyanotic. He was taken, his hands and feet bound by zip-ties, to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

For several days after Mr. Roe’s death, medical staff continued to ‘document’ in the daily segregation log that Mr. Roe appeared to be ‘in good health and mood.’”

These kinds of abuses are not relegated to a single prison, but they also aren’t inherent in any detention system. In the United States, though, they’re business as usual. Our prison system is increasingly built and run by for-profit corporations, who have a financial interest in increasing the number of people in prison while decreasing the amount of money it costs to house them.

Since 1980, the US prison population has grown by 790%. We have the largest prison population of any nation in the history of the world. One in three African-American men will go to jail at some point in his life. Imprisoning that many people, most of them for non-violent offenses, doesn’t come cheap, especially when you’re paying private contractors. The United States now spends $50bn on our corrections system every year.

Much of that money goes to private contractors, who are doing quite well living off of American corporate welfare – at the expense of the American taxpayer, whose dollars are funding this mass incarceration project. Large-scale imprisonment isn’t making us any safer, either. But it is putting small-time non-violent individuals – drug users and dealers – in close contact with more hardened criminals and making it significantly more difficult for them to find decent work after their release. That’s a perfect recipe for recidivism, not rehabilitation.

Prisons, as demonstrated by the ACLU case, have also become de facto mass institutions for the mentally ill, except without the oversight that pure psychiatric facilities face. With states tightening their budgets, mental health care is being cut even further. While the mentally ill are more likely to be victims of crimes than victimizers, they are imprisoned at disproportionate rates, and often lack meaningful mental healthcare in prison and even face conditions that exacerbate their diseases, like solitary confinement and total squalor. We’re effectively taking some of the most vulnerable members of society and subjecting them to ongoing torture.

We have so demonized criminals in the United States that there’s widespread acceptance of the fact that jail in modern day America means rapes, beatings, vermin, filth and abuse. But to what end? “Criminals” are punished, yes – brutally, and in ways that should repel and shame us. But rehabilitation isn’t happening in these facilities. Crime isn’t being deterred; if anything, it’s being fostered.

The American public is losing out. The only winners are the private companies who are still awarded contracts to build and maintain more prisons, and who throw their weight behind politicians who promote the supposedly “tough on crime” measures that ensure those prisons are full.

There are many ways to punish crime and protect the public. Ceding our humanity doesn’t have to be one of them.

 

Die a thousand deaths—the endless wait of UP’s death row inmates #Deathpenalty


NIRALA TRIPATHI
Karan Singh, Babloo, Rakesh Kumar, Barabanki Jail
In jail for 9 years now for murder of a cousin’s wife. Hoping HC will overturn death verdict.
No Noose Ends Here
Die a thousand deaths—the endless wait of UP’s death row inmates for the HC to decide their fate
SHARAT PRADHAN, The Outlook

Devendra Nath Rai was a young army soldier, barely 34, when he was charged and court-martialled for the murder of a superior, convicted and given a death sentence. He’s now 56. He has spent the past 22 years in the historic Naini Central Jail in Allahabad, once the British Raj’s favourite dumping ground for freedom fighters, waiting for his own hanging. Deven­dra’s sentence is, literally, hanging—because the mandatory confirmation by the Allah­abad High Court is still awaited. And no one knows how many more years he will have to spend in this purgat­ory-like state. The provisions of Section 366 of the CrPC clearly spell out that “when the court of session passes a death sentence, the proceedings shall be submitted to the high court, and the sentence shall not be executed unless it is confirmed  by the high court”. The suspense is killing, because even in this mandatory function, the HC is empowered to not just confirm or commute the sentence but even to acquit the convict.

Expectedly enough, Devendra’s is not the only case of its type. As many as 99 death sentence convicts are languishing in different jails of Uttar Pradesh—and they have been inside for varying periods, from one year to 22 years. They are all awaiting their turn before the Allahabad HC, simply to know whether they will meet their end in the gallows or be allowed to live, even if it is within the four walls of a prison. What makes matters worse is these inmates are not entitled to bail or par­ole “during the pendency of confirmation of sentence” by the court.

Brooding over these uncertainties for over two decades, it seems, has taken a toll on the mind of the former lance naik of the Signals Corps. Jail authorities admit to having referred him to a psychiatrist for some time. But despite his incoherent talk, he remains consistent on one issue: “I did not kill anyone; I was implicated by my bosses, one of whom actually gunned down the Company havildar major and another soldier for which I am in jail,” Devendra toldOutlook outside his barracks at Naini jail.


Photograph by Nirala Tripathi

Devendra Nath, Naini Jail
22 years in jail, got death for murder of a superior in the army

Back home in Amethi village under Gambhirpur police circle of Azamgarh district, about 175 km away, Devendra’s wife Mithilesh is equally disillusioned. For what good it’s done, she’s had a routine for the past many years. Every morning she rises, goes out and bows her head to pray before the Lord Shiva statue carefully installed under an ancient peepal tree trunk just at the threshold of her ramshackle home.

These inmates are not allowed parole or bail “during the pendency of confirmation of sentence by the HC”.

It hasn’t helped Devendra’s cause much though. “I am barely able to meet him once a year because it costs a lot of money, nearly a thousand rupees which is more than what I can save over a year,” says an anguished Mithilesh. In the intervening years, she has managed to get two daughters married off though, thanks “to our relatives and people in the neighbourhood”. A third daughter lives with her grandparents in Mumbai where she is pursuing her graduation after which “she hopes to get a job so she is able to fight her father’s court battle”. Sadly, the father could not attend the two weddings because, again, he is not entit­led to parole until the HC comes to a decision. (Devendra coul­dn’t even recall when he had last seen his daughters.)

An assertive high court recently orde­red action against lax bureaucrats and cops sleeping over judicial directives; this  has lent Mithilesh some hope. “I have heard the court has taken serious note of the delays, so I am hoping my husband’s case too would get expedi­ted…I have waited a full lifetime just to know whether I am going to become a widow or not,” Mithilesh says, her eyes welling with tears. “I still haven’t given up hope that the court will commute his sentence to life imprisonment.”

However, even if Mithilesh’s wishful thinking were to come true, it’s not as if Devendra will be set free. The law is usually clear about offsetting the time spent as undertrial against the sentence. But there’s a catch-22 here too. As leading criminal lawyer I.B. Singh points out, “That rule won’t apply as Dev­endra’s punishment hasn’t been con­firmed by the high court. The poor chap’s  life-term (if at all) will come into effect only from the date of confirmation by the HC. Which means all these years he spent behind bars become meaningless.”


Photograph by Nirala Tripathi

Sukh Lal, Naini Jail
In jail since ’01, killed  the three sons of his father’s murderer 12 years after the event

I.B. Singh, who had earlier fought to get reprieve for 42 women convicts and und­­ertrials languishing in Lucknow jail for over two decades, is appalled with the rights violation involved. “It’s time the judiciary as a whole rises to save people from such avoidable physical harassment and mental agony; after all letting matters relating to their life and death hang fire for years is making the poor convicts die a thousand deaths before they meet their actual end,” he feels.

Cases like Devendra’s are spread across 27 jails of the state. One such comes from another historic penal institution, the 153-year-old Barabanki jail, where three mothers are anxiously waiting for their respective sons, convicted of the murder of a cousin’s wife. Police records say they are guilty of “pre-meditated, cold-bloo­ded murder”, believed to be over an old family property dispute, but the mothers insist they are innocent. The accused, Karan Singh, Babloo and Rakesh Kumar claim they were “working in Lucknow when the murder took place but because of the old land dispute between our families we were falsely implicated”.

The murder took place in Ladai ka Purwa village under Loni Katra police circle of Barabanki district on January 12, ’04. The conviction came seven years later. And while the ratification of their death sentence was awaited, they moved an appeal before the HC, which reserved its verdict sometime in February last. The mothers are hoping for a possible reprieve in the appeal. “The witnesses have disclosed in the HC how they were compelled to give tutored statements against our sons,” they told Outlook.

Incidentally, all three mothers are widows who have mortgaged parts of their small one bigha of land to pay the lawyer’s fees. “The lawyer is confident about the merit in our case,” says Sarju Devi, one of the mothers.

Now, unlike Devendra and the others who claim innocence, there are also peo­ple like Sukh Lal, 43, on death row, who has no qualms about admitting his crime. “Yes, I killed three of his sons with my licensed gun…they had to pay for my father’s murder. Their father had killed him in front of my eyes; I was a kid at the time, all I could do was watch and wait patiently for 12 years,” he says.

While he has no regrets about the act, what bothers him is the fate of his daughter, now 15. “After 13 years in jail and still waiting for a confirmation of my sente­nce, I do feel I could have pardoned them; my daughter is growing up and I am stuck in here,” he says resignedly.


By Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow

 

Shehla Masood Case- Saba’s counsel to file contempt case against jail staff


My Friend Shehla Masood

My Friend Shehla Masood

TNN | Jun 1, 2013, 

INDORE: A representative of Reliance Communication, Santosh Jadhav appreared before the special CBI court on Friday and got his statements recorded during the hearing on RTI activist Shehla Masood murder case on Friday. Two other witnesses namely, Anil Saini and Badre Aalam could not appear for family and personal reasons.Next hearing of case is schedule for July 3.

Defense counsel Mahendra Morya said that Santosh Jadhav gave details about six mobile numbers including a cell phone number related to main accused Zahida Pervez and Irfan.

Anil Kumar, counsel of Zahida Pervez, told media that she was innocent and was being falsely implicated. He alleged that CBI has trained witnesses about what to speak before presenting them before court.

Sunil Shrivastav, counsel of another accused and friend of Zahida, Saba Faoorqui said they are contemplating to file a case of contempt of court against jail authorities. He said Saba is suffering from some medical complication and her health is deteriorating. They had filed a petition in this regard with the court in March on which court had ordered to submit medical report in two weeks time, but jail authorities has yet not submitted the report.

Shehla Masood was killed in August 2011 in front of her house when she was about to leave for office in her car. Police arrested Zahida Pervez, Saba Farooqui, Saqib Danger, Irfan and Tabish in connection of the murder and all the accused are right now in jail in Indore as under trial.

 

India jail-born man earns bail money, for release of his mother after 19 years #WTF


 

By Sanjoy Majumder BBC News, Kanpur

Vijay Kumari was unable to post the necessary bail amount of about £120

In a dusty tenement in a crowded neighbourhood in the Indian city of Kanpur, a young man takes out a bright yellow sari from a shopping bag and presents it to his mother.

“Do you like it?” he asks her. “Yes,” is her reply.

It is an innocuous scene, except that the young man, Kanhaiya, has waited a long time to give his mother a gift.

Nineteen years ago, his mother Vijai Kumari was convicted of murder – wrongfully she claimed.

She was granted bail on appeal but she did not have the 10,000 rupees ($180; £119) she needed to post bail. Her husband abandoned her and no-one else came forward to help her.

“I thought I’d die in prison,” she says. “They told me in there that no one ever gets out.”

She was pregnant when she went to jail. Four months later, Kanhaiya was born.

“I sent him away when he got a bit older. It was hard but I was determined. Prison is no place for a young child,” she says.

So she stayed in prison all these years, lost in the system and forgotten.

All she had to keep her going was a passport-size photograph of her son and his visits to her every three months.

‘Think of her and cry’

Kanhaiya spent most of his childhood growing up at various juvenile homes. And he never forgot his mother.

“I would think of her and cry,” he says, speaking softly and with a lisp.

“She was in prison, all alone. No-one else ever visited her. And my father turned his back on her.”

Kanhaiya's mother Vijai Kumari only had a photo of her son in jail Vijai Kumari only had a small photograph of her son Kanhaiya

As soon as he turned 18, he was trained to work in a garment factory. And he began saving up to get his mother out.

Eventually, he hired a lawyer.

“Someone told me about him. He was surprised to hear about my mother’s case.”

The lawyer took on his case and earlier this month, his mother was freed from prison.

Judges expressed their shock at her situation and the “callous and careless” behaviour of the authorities.

They have now ordered a sweep of all the prisons in the state to see if there are others like Vijai Kumari.

The reality is that hers is not an isolated case.

There are an estimated 300,000 inmates in India‘s prisons, 70% of whom are yet to face trial. And many of them have spent a long time in custody.

It is a reflection of India’s shambolic and sluggish legal system where it can often take years for a case to be heard and a trial to be concluded.

But, for the moment, mother and son are reunited and anxious about their future.

“All I want is for my son to be settled,” Vijai Kumari says, her voice breaking and her eyes moist.

“He’s all I have in this world.”

Kanhaiya and his mother plan to approach his estranged father and fight for their rights, including a share of the family property.

But for now, they are taking in the present and trying to make up for all the time they have lost.

Do not oppose bail of 63 Naxalites, Buch panel to Chhattisgarh


May 8, TNN
BHOPAL: Committee set for reviewing the cases ofundertrials languishing in Chhattisgarh jails, has so far recommended the state government that it should not oppose the bail plea of 63Naxalities who have been in jail for more than two years.

However, the committee is not aware whether any of these 63 naxalities were released or not. The committee headed by former chief secretary of state Nirmala Buch was constituted as a part of deal between Naxalities and state government against the release of abducted Sukma collector Alex Paul Menon, in May 2012.

The first meeting of the committee was held on May 3 last year, the day when the abducted collector was released by Naxalities, the committee’s sixth meeting was held at Bhopal on Monday.

“It is a standing committee and its purpose is to review the cases of undertrials who are in the jails for 2 years or more. So far we have reviewed 235 such cases and have recommended that government should not oppose the bail pleas of 110 such undertrials. Out of these, 110 a total of 63 were naxalities,” chairperson of the committee Nirmala Buch told TOI.

“176 cases were reviewed till the fifth meeting of the committee, out of which we recommended the government for not opposing the bail pleas of 71 after the review”, she said. “11 out of the 71 got bails, 10 were acquitted, 32 bail applications were not opposed by government but were rejected by courts,” she said.

“The rest 14 undertrials didn’t apply for bail in court,” Buch said.

Now, after the sixth meeting where we have reviewed 59 cases, we are recommending the government for not opposing the bail pleas of 39 such under trials which includes 21 naxalities, she added.

In all there are around 990 undertrials in Chhattisgarh jails who have been in captivity for two years or more years. We will review the next 100 cases in the meeting which is scheduled in July this year, Buch said.

 

 

Tihar’s sinister labyrinths– Torture, custodial deaths, negligence and rampant corruption


 — India’s high security prison has all this and much more reports G Vishnu

G Vishnu

G Vishnu , Tehelka

April 5, 20l  

Tihar jail. File Photo

After 35-year-old Ram Singh, one of the accused in the infamous 16 December Delhi gang-rape case, was found hanging in his cell in Jail No. 3 of Tihar, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde called it a major lapse in security. The minister would do well to read this story.

TEHELKA has found out through interviews and testimonies of former and under-trial inmates of Tihar that torture, sodomy, custodial deaths, negligence, and rampant corruption — India’s highest security prison has all this and much more. Even though questions have been raised on the circumstances around Ram Singh’s death, nobody is surprised that it was possible in Jail No.3, which houses close to 4,000 of Tihar’s 13,000 odd inmates.

TEHELKA went through the testimonies of inmates who detailed their ordeal inside Tihar for a public interest litigation (PIL). Sample this from Samrat*: “On 14 January 2012, I was cut across my face with a sharp weapon. It is the duty of the jail officials to take care of under-trials, protecting them from inmates who have such violent behaviors. But unfortunately the jail officials often turn a blind eye to such inmates in exchange for the greed of money,” he says.

“We both are educated and know our rights. He is being subjected to torture because we decided to complain to authorities about the things that happen within those walls,” said Samrat’s wife, speaking on the condition of anonymity. She further reveals that she was asked to pay a bribe of Rs 5,000 to get a relative’s name in the Mulakaat List (list of outsiders who are allowed to interact with the inmates). Another former inmate says he had to pay a bribe of Rs 50,000 to a high-ranking official to get a better place to sleep. “In a place where a pouch of tobacco that otherwise costs Rs 20 can be bought at about Rs 500, coercion becomes a skill to survive for convicts,” he says.

For 39-year-old Jacob Philip, an NRI from Dubai who had spent a decade in the USA, torture stared at him the day he entered Tihar. “I entered the designated ward on 20 September 2008. I had no place to sleep as the place was overcrowded. That night I saw 10-15 inmates beating a fellow inmate in front of everybody. I found later that he was being beaten because he had the audacity to say ‘bye’ to others after getting a bail that day,” says Jacob.

Absurdly, Jacob ended up in Tihar under the Extradition Act. Under the act, the enquiry on the accused cannot continue for more than 60 days. Yet, Jacob ended up spending three and a half years inside Tihar, until he was acquitted and finally released on February 25, 2012. “I used to help people write their bail applications and appeals. At the same time, I also knew the powerful people inside. During my time inside, I saw things I cannot even begin to describe. I can say without exaggeration that I saw at least a thousand cases of torture perpetrated on weaker inmates by stronger ones with tacit and sometimes open support from Jail authorities,” he adds. “In Tihar, nobody is accountable. Nobody is answerable. How can anybody expose anything?”

Jacob describes Tihar as a parallel world with its own set of rules. He was lodged in Jail No. 4 of Tihar. The ward behind his is 4B, a punishment cell (kisuri ward in Tihar parlance). Jacob spent countless nights hearing screams of inmates being tortured. Convicts running the ‘chakkar‘ (Control room, but also refers to torture), armed with sticks and blades, would beat up fellow inmates. Motives would range from extortion and punishment for non-conformism. Sometimes, even jail guards would join.

Mohammed Amir, who spent 10 years in Tihar as a terror accused before his acquittal in 2012, confirms all the above and more. Amir claims he was subjected to torture by fellow inmates, who attacked him at the behest of some jail officials. “You cannot expect Tihar to be a correctional facility. Everybody there has a very criminal mindset,” he said.

Three inmates also spoke about the economics of sodomy inside Tihar. “There’s forceful sex for extortion. And there’s sex that inmates often indulge in for money. Some pay in fear of forceful sex. Some indulge in sex in order to earn a little,” said a former inmate on the condition of anonymity.

Journalist Iftikhar Gilani, who documented the sinister world inside Tihar in his book My Days in Prison, agrees that Tihar is hardly a place to reform. “Here criminals are brutalised. Under-trials spend years inside and convicts run the place.India does not understand the point of having its prisons. The people who man these prisons know nothing about criminal psychology or social science — key elements for helping prisoners to reform,” he says.

Iftikhar was not merely a witness to torture. He had been wrongfully arrested, accused of being an ISI agent in June 2002 and spent close to nine months in Tihar. “I was beaten up inside the jail superintendent’s office the day I arrived there. In the subsequent days, I was put in solitary confinement. I was also made to clean the toilet with my shirt. On a particular night, when I was really sick, one of the wardens said “marne do usse” (let him die), when my fellow inmates called for help,” recalls Iftikhar.

The shocking negligence that Iftikhar recalls from his days in prison are still prevalent as is obvious from the case of Santosh Kumar, who died on 25 February last year. An inquiry report by district and sessions judge IS Mehtain has observed that Santosh died due to negligence on part of the jail authorities. Santosh had consumed acid some years ago, which damaged his oesophagus to an extent that he could never consume solid food again. He was completely dependent on a liquid diet, which was being administered using a feeding tube inserted into his stomach. Arrested in December 2010 and lodged in Tihar, Santosh was denied four liters of milk that was due to him as per court orders. By December 2011, his health had completely deteriorated. Despite the Patiala Sessions Court order, the jail authorities failed to provide him medical treatment, ignoring Santosh’s pleas. On 16 January, Santosh was taken to AIIMS where he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. His treatment however started only on 7 February. Within three weeks, Santosh was dead. He had spent his last days writing letters to authorities to provide him the required medical treatment.

While the National Human Rights Commission has received a multitude of complaints regarding human rights violations and custodial deaths inside Tihar over the last five years, some inmates are battling it out in the courts. A particularly determined inmate is 60-year-old Christopher Rozario, who in a petition to the Delhi High Court, has alleged that he has been repeatedly tortured by jail authorities. Christopher claims to be a PhD holder from Cambridge and a former employee of Kerala University.

However, Sunil Kumar Gupta, Chief PRO of Tihar rubbished Christopher’s allegations. Gupta also rejected all the other assertions. “There might have been isolated instances of torture. I can guarantee that things have changed over the last year. There’s no blade-baazi these days. We have reigned in on the ‘chakkars‘ and convicts do not enjoy the same powers as earlier. We have complete transparency in place,” he said responding to TEHELKA’s queries.

Former top cop Kiran Bedi, credited with bringing several reforms feels that bringing more technology would go a long way in making Tihar a less brutal place. “Add more transparency. Bring more cameras. You won’t find corruption. You will give convicts space to reform,” she says.

G Vishnu     

 

Angry Jeetan Marandi vows to continue stir for poor


JEETAN

 Mukesh Ranjan | Ranchi |  Pioneer, April 1, 2013

Aggravated after his release from the jail after five years, Jeetan Marandi is all set to expedite his movement for the cause of the release of thousands of innocent tribal people lodged in various jails on the pretext of being Naxals.

Jeetan, a prime suspect of the Chilkhari massacre in which Anup Marandi, son of the former Chief Minister Babulal Marandi along with other 17 other people got killed, awarded death sentence by a Giridih Court, was released from Birsa Munda Central Jail on Thursday.

“I am not happy even after my release, as thousands of poor and tribal people are still lodged in jails without any substantial charges against them. My acquittal has exposed the intention of the suppressive Governments at the Centre and in the State,” said Jeetan.

“Had I not been acquitted, the intention of the Government would not have been clear,” added Jeetan. “They are trying to keep me away from my wife and son and have put my wife in the jail with a four-year child with her,” he alleged.

He was arrested allegedly because his name resembled to a Maoist Jeetan Marandi for whom cops had been looking for. There had been wide range of agitations across the country after Jeetan’s arrest on April 5, 2008.

Even Human Rights activist Binayak Sen came in open support of Jeetan Marandi terming the death sentence to the tribal artist as unlawful. An artiste and a tribal rights activist, Jeetan was well known for utilising the power of music to speak against government atrocities on the common man, especially tribals.

He was speaking to the media persons during a felicitation ceremony organised, by Jeetan Marandi Rihai Manch, after his release from the jail at Namkom Bagicha in Ranchi. Jeetan is to be felicitated in Giridih on Sunday.

Jeetan, who also narrated the police atrocities he had to go thorough while he was in jail and looked determined to work for the cause of over 6000 tribal and 10,000 other  people lodged in jail under Crime Control Act. He also accused the State and the Central Governments of conspiring against him to put in the jail to suppress the voice of the poor and downtrodden.

As the Government wants to label Jeetan’s family as a sympathiser of the CPI (Maoists), it has imposed a false case against his wife Aparana Marandi along with her four-year child in jail a few months back. The kid has not even seen his father’s face,” said Central Committee member of the Marxist Co-ordination Committee Sushanto Bhattacharya.

17 people got killed on the spot at Chilkhari on October 26, 2007 while 12 got injured in the massacre. Two more people died later during investigations. During a cultural programme at Chilkhari, a few unidentified persons started firing indiscriminately on the crowd present at the function.

Jeetan and other three were convicted under section 143,342,379,149,120B, 30, 149, Copyright Licencing Act and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act along with 302.

 

Political prisoners observe Hunger strike on 23rd March Bhagat Singh’s martyrdom day for ABOLISHMENT OF #Deathpenalty


PRESS RELEASE,  NAGPUR , MARCH 21, 2013

Numerous countries across the world have abolished the death sentence as a form of punishment. However India, claimed repeatedly by its rulers to be a democratic country still retains this inhuman practice and the bloody eye-for-an-eye code of justice. Capital punishment is unacceptable with democratic principles and hence we believe that it should be abolished in India. With this demand about forty political prisoners of the Nagpur Central prison, including ten women will observe a one day token Hunger strike on 23rd March 2013.

Bhagat Singh, Sukhdeo and Rajguru, who fought against British Imperialism and underwent a prolonged struggle against the colonial prison administration for recognition of their political prisoner status were hanged to death by the British. As part of this struggle, political prisoners across the country observe the day of their martyrdom, 23rd March each year as ‘Political Prisoners Day’.

On this occasion, the government never fails to sponsor full page advertisements in the daily papers, whilst killing his thoughts and opinions. The government colluding with Imperialism and making numerous agreements for the sale of the nation, is like the British brutally crushing those who resist- the revolutionaries, democrats and patriots. Those who believe in freedom, equality and liberty are branded as anti-nationals and some are sentenced to death by hanging to make an example.

Through this press note, we call that all those imprisoned for their rights, justice, freedom, equality and liberty be recognized as political prisoners and be unconditionally released.

Yours faithfully,

Undertrial Bhimrao Bhovate

Date: 21st March 2013

Place: Nagpur Prison.

 

#India- Prisons shut away from all human rights


Hindustan Times
New Delhi, February 24, 2013
West Bengal‘s Dum Dum Central Jail could put the notorious Abu Ghraib in a shade going by some of the disturbing incidents which have taken place there recently. A mere request for better food earned Bikram Mahato, undergoing trial for murder, a severe beating after which he was handcuffed and  kept naked in a cell. And this is not an isolated incident in this jail. When Mahato had complained about the quality of the food in 2010, the authorities in a cruel response forced him to drink a solution of bleaching powder. In the same year, Sheikh Farhat Mahmood was stripped and beaten in Kolkata‘s Presidency Central Jail for wanting some time out of his cell. What compounds this brutality is the fact that all these were undertrials, presumed innocent until proven guilty for the crimes that they are accused of.The government estimates that undertrials make for 67% of its prison population. According to a report released by the National Crime Records Bureau in 2011, the number of undertrials in the country was 2,41,200. The fact that there are more undertrials than there are convicts suggests that the system is dragging its feet over the fate of many who may be innocent. There is merit in the advice that  undertrials and convicts be kept separately. But the real issue here is judicial delays and with this often the miscarriage of justice. There were 66,569 cases still pending in the Supreme Court at the end of January 2013, and at the end of 2011, there were still 3.2 crore cases awaiting resolution in the higher and subordinate courts. Some like Machang Lalung waited for 54 years in a prison. Charged with physical assault when he was 23, the Assamese tribal was surprisingly never tried. In 2007, he was freed at the age of 77. He died in 2009, two years after his release. There was no recompense for a lifetime of wrongful captivity.

An advisory issued to states by the central government this month gives cause for some hope. Wanting to correct the systemic wrongs that see undertrials imprisoned for indefinite lengths of time, the Centre has asked states to release all such individuals, if and when they complete half the sentence their presumed offence demands. While rampant poverty and illiteracy among undertrials seem to have informed such a measure, the happenings at Dum Dum Central Jail cannot be allowed to slide. If West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee wants to put an end to the rot in the state’s prisons, she could take a leaf out of UP‘s book where 71 undertrial prisoners are appearing for board examinations this year. She must understand that this sort of trial by error is hardly in the interest of the people who looked to her for a more humane form of governance.

US: A nation of inmates? #prison


We examine the impact of America’s high incarceration rate on its penal system and on poor and minority communities.
 Last Modified: 20 Feb 2013 09:52

There are more prisoners in the US than any other nation in the world.

The country makes up five percent of the world’s population, but accounts for 25 percent of its prison population. And over the last three decades the number held in US federal prisons has jumped by nearly 80 percent.

There has been in this country over the last 30 years a relentless upward climb in the incarcerated population and disturbing as the situation is with the federal prison system, that is really only the tip of the iceberg because the federal prison system is only about 10 percent of the total number of people incarcerated in this country. On any given day, we have about 2.3 million people behind bars in federal, state and local facilities.

- David Fathi, ACLU National Prison Project

The number of inmates in US federal prisons has increased from about 25,000 in 1980 to 219,000 in 2012, according to a report by the US Congressional Research Service.

The report says the federal prison system was 39 percent over its capacity in 2011. And the situation is worse for high and medium security male facilities.

High-security prisons were overcrowded by 51 percent, while medium security prisons were overcrowded by 55 percent in 2011.

According to a report by the Government Accountability Office, overcrowding has contributed to worse safety and security conditions for both inmates and staff.

The overcrowded facilities have contributed to a multibillion dollar demand for private prisons. The industry argues it is helping the government save money. But others argue that for-profit prisons only increase the incentive to incarcerate more people.

Almost half of those incarcerated in federal prisons are drug offenders. Another 16 percent of inmates are in prison for offences related to weapons, explosives and arson. Those convicted of immigration violations make up 12 percent of the federal prison population.

Policy makers have come to the realisation, on a state and federal level, that you can’t necessarily build yourself out of a crime situation, that we just can’t continue at these numbers to incarcerate people, and the impact on state budgets and the money spent on a federal level to deal with mass incarceration has just left us in a lot of ways unprotected in other areas.

- Matthew Mangino, a former DA in Pennsylvania

And the impact of mass imprisonment spreads far beyond the prison walls.

Sociologists have found that the rise in incarceration rates reduce social mobility and ensure both prisoners and their families remain trapped in a cycle of poverty.

In the US, minorities make up over 70 percent of the federal prison population.

Demographically, African-Americans – who represent 12 percent of the US population – make up 37 percent of federal prisoners.

And Latinos – who are 16 percent of the population – make up 35 percent of prisoners.

So, what is the impact of the high incarceration rate on the US penal system and on poor communities?

To discuss this, Inside Story Americas with presenter Shihab Rattansi is joined by guests: David Fathi, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project; Matthew Mangino, a former district attorney in Pennsylvania; and Marc Mauer, the executive director of The Sentencing Project, and author of the book Race to Incarcerate.


THE US PRISON INDUSTRY

  • It is increasingly more expensive to maintain the federal prison system
  • Per capita prisoner costs rose from $19,571 in 2000 to $26,094 in 2011
  • Bureau of prisons has backlog of 154 modernisation and repair projects
  • More offences subject to mandatory minimum sentences since the 1980s
  • Mandatory sentences have pushed up inmate numbers for drug offences
  • More crimes have been made federal offences since early 1980s
  • Crime rates in the US have been falling since the early 1990s
  • Sentencing project: prisoners in US declined by about 1.5 percent in 2011
  • Some US states have moved to reduce overcrowding in prisons
  • Supreme court ordered California to reduce prison overcrowding in 2011
  • Budget crises have prompted states to reduce overcrowding in prisons
  • For-profit companies control 18 percent of US federal prisoners
  • For-profit companies control 6.7 percent of all US state prisoners
  • Most new prisons built between 2000 and 2005 are privately run
  • Corrections corporation of America is largest private prison operator