Updated: Aug 18, 2021
The curious death of Ramkumar:
FACTS NOT RELEVANT :
Ramkumar, the alleged lone assailant who stalked and killed young Swathi, took his own life by biting a live wire pulled out from a switchboard inside the prison is unusual.
CONCEPT : 1. STATE OF PRISION CONDITIONS ; 2. PRISON SUICIDES:
STATE OF PRISION CONDITIONS : Prison suicides set off questions about the conditions of incarceration in our jails, often seen as overcrowded and understaffed.
Suicide by electrocution is rare, as it is not difficult to deny prisoners any form of access to live electrical cables.
HOW CAN WE PREVENT PRISON SUICIDES ?
There is truth in the theory that it is difficult to prevent a person determined to commit suicide, even if some correctional psychologists disagree.
There ought to be an initial evaluation of incoming prisoners to identify those with a high risk of suicide.
Thereafter, periodic assessments of their state of mind should be made.
While continuous watch is inescapable, designing ‘suicide-resistant cells’ and auditing jails to identify and remove possible anchoring points for attempts to die by hanging are other necessary measures.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT ? In Indian context, suicide death accounts for almost 71% of unnatural deaths reported in prison.
BECAUSE THE CONVICTS DO HAVE FR UNDER ART.21 :
The Hon’ble Supreme Court in NILABATI BEHERA V STATE OF ORISSA 1993 SCC 746 case asserted that convicts, prisoners or under-trials are not denuded of their fundamental rights under Article 21[Right to life and personal liberty] of the Constitution and there is a corresponding responsibility on the police and prison authorities 32 National Human Rights Commission 33 Suicide in Prison to make sure that persons in custody are not deprived of the Right to Life.
D.K.Basu Vs. State of W.B. 1997 (1) SCC 416 The precious right guaranteed by Article 21 cannot be denied to convicts, under trials, detenus and other prisoners in custody, except according to the procedure established by law by placing such reasonable restrictions as are permitted by law.
CAUSES FOR JAIL SUICIDES: It has been theorized that there are two primary causes for jail suicide —
first, jail environment is conducive to suicidal behaviour = From the inmate’s perspective, certain features of the jail environment enhance suicidal behaviour: fear of the unknown, distrust of the authoritarian environment, lack of apparent control over the future, isolation from family and significant others, shame of incarceration, and the dehumanizing aspects of incarceration.
second, the inmate is facing a crisis situation : when intoxicated persons sober up, depression sets in ; Recent loss of stabilizing resources - loved ones/ property etc.. ; Severe guilt or shame over the offence ; Same-sex rape ; Current mental illness; Poor health or terminal illness ; Approaching an emotional breaking point.
WHAT CAN BE DONE ?