Governments and prison systems across the globe are facing backlash on accord of the overload of prisons and the poor conditions for inmates.
As the Corona virus outbreak escalated across nations, the social and human rights activists advocated release of minor charge convicts in hope of decongesting the prison system. This was first brought to light in late March when Sirous Asgari, an engineering professor from Iran who is detained presently by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) in United States warned in the wake of corona outbreak that the callous living conditions in ICE detention facility might lead it to be the hot spot of virus.
With Asgari testing positive in April for COVID-19 there has been a major outrage against the prison conditions. Many governments have condemned this and advocated the release of Asgari. The activists too are demanding decongesting the prisons to avoid this further.
Heath officials are warning against the devastating spread of Corona virus inside jails. A New York health official described it as a ‘storm is coming’.
Supreme Court in India had ordered in April to relax the prisons and release the minor offenders but the order is not being followed judiciously. Chief Justice A.S. Bobde had ordered the states to release the prisoners who are facing sentence of up to 7 years on parole or interim bail. This judgement was initiated by the Apex court to avoid any prison overcrowding during the pandemic crisis and to not oversaturate the prison system. The human rights activists are raising questions regarding this lapse in order implementation.
Overcrowding in jails in India is a serious problem with poor hygiene and sanitation issues. This is the reason why human rights advocates and social activists are raising their voice to decongest and relax the prisons. The prisons being a hot spot is a real time concern and needs to be addressed before it’s too late. Prisons are the breeding ground of infections due to poor sanitation, overcrowding, lack of nutritional food supply and resultant poor immunity in inmates.
Cases in India as those of Varavara Rao, an 80 year old poet and activist-journalist, who is in prison is feared to contract the infection due to poor immunity because of age and the inhumane living conditions in prison. Activists are demanding the government to release Rao and many such inmates on humanity grounds on interim bail.
It is to be seen that whether the requests of relaxing the prisons is heard in coming days. Healthcare of the prisoners must be talked about at an international level and acted upon.