Admission of convicted and unconvicted was only a formality. When suicide cases started to be registered, an Evening Reception Board was put in place and which later became the Induction Unit. It must be recognized that since the operation of the Evening Reception Board there has been practically no cases of even an attempt at suicide. A multi- disciplinary approach was adopted whereby every unit that had a bearing on the welfare of detainees was pulled on board. It became binding for example for Welfare Officers, Prison Medical Officers, Hospital staff, Officers in Charge of Kitchen, Clothing and Accommodation to provide the basic services that could create a home like environment. In fact the saying to the effect that’ people are sent to prison as a punishment and not for punishment’ started at least to be followed in an austere environment.
However the location of that would be Induction Unit was not appropriate. All admissions were registered at the Central Prison where the threat for security for some category of detainees became a source of concern. With the outbreak of HIV/AIDS cases and the integration of infected detainees with all amenities created the right environment for an Induction Unit. It must be acknowledged that the day of admission for anyone coming to prison for the first time is a traumatic one. The network of services put in place has alleviated to a large extent the grudge, anger, grief and anxiety omnipresent in the mind all newly admitted.
Many cases of fine & cost, bail eligibility, medical treatment, Medical screening, arrangement for social aid in the absence of the bread winner, communication facilities for local and foreign national amongst others are being tackled to the satisfaction of the majority of admissions. The involvements of NGOs are also being encouraged during that process. The relief this endeavour brings to families of detainees is felt through interactions. There is a long way to go because, after having embarked on such a initiative which is a dynamic one, there should always be a need to rethink about this process.
The Problem of women detainees – a major human rights concern
1. Admission is presently done in a formal and routine manner while neglecting the psychological effect of imprisonment in the life of a human being. Women being considered as vulnerable are distorted and shattered with the effect of imprisonment.
2. The admission procedure includes the detainee’s identification, searching, the handing over by the police, filling of personal information form which is included in the penal record, verifying and keeping of personal property, informed of her rights and privileges in an informal way without ensuring that she is in a state of understanding, seen by the medical staff and eventually by the welfare officer. The detainee is then sent to the residential block where she is allocated with an accommodation, without any psycho-social support.
3. Classification and sentence planning are not included in the procedures which represent a great loophole in the rehabilitation process which is also one of the major reasons for recidivism.
4. At present there is no good structure and programme for peer support which is a most valuable asset in the women prison.