The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has formulated the Model Prisons Act, 2023 to replace the pre-independence era law, the Prisons Act, 1894 which is almost 130 years old. The new Act incentivizes prisoners’ good conduct through legal aid, etc. and envisages the use of technology in prison administration. As per its provisions, separate accommodation would be provided to women and transgender prisoners, and special emphasis would be laid on vocational training, skill development and reintegration of prisoners into society.
The MHA noticed that the existing provisions are silent on the reformation and rehabilitation of prisoners, and other aspects which have assumed global importance in the last few decades. Consequently, a need was felt to revise the existing prison laws in the country and with this objective, the Ministry approached the Bureau of Police Research and Development. After holding extensive deliberations with the State Prison authorities, correctional experts, etc. to ascertain the present scenario and requirements, the Bureau came up with the draft.
However, it is up to the States and Union Territories to adopt the Act in their respective jurisdictions since matters pertaining to prisons, reformatories, borstal institutions, etc. along with persons detained therein fall under the State list according to the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.