For India’s undertrials, the legal process is the punishment
Drawing by Arun Ferreira
The Indian Express / by Nandita Rao
After the death of Stan Swamy, questions about the conditions of jails and treatment of the incarcerated have been raised anew
Michel Foucault, in Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, wrote, “punishments like imprisonment – mere loss of liberty – has never functioned without a certain additional element of punishment that certainly concerns the body itself: rationing of food, sexual deprivation, corporal punishment, solitary confinement… There remains, therefore, a trace of ‘torture’ in the modern mechanisms of criminal justice.”
The National Crime Records Bureau data reports the death of over 1,800 prisoners in the year 2018. An estimated 70 per cent of prison inmates are undertrials, so it can be safely assumed that a large percentage of those dying in prison are not convicted of any offence.