The Open Prisons of Rajasthan Detailed Study 2017

The Open Prisons of Rajasthan Detailed Study 2017

In April 2017, Hon’ble Mr. Justice K. S. Jhaveri, Executive Chairman of the Rajasthan State Legal Services Authority, appointed me a Rajasthan’s Honorary Commissioner of Prisons. My mandate specifically included conducting a study of open prisons of Rajasthan. The state has had open prison system since 1955, and the model stood the test of time proving to be extremely successful. Currently, there are 29 open prisons in Rajasthan, 15 of which I visited for my study.

The study was published in November 2017 by RSLSA and launched by the Chief Justice of Rajasthan Hon’ble Mr. Justice Pradeep Nandrajog.

The study reveals exactly what makes open prisons the best penitentiary model available in India. The onus of liberty is on the prisoner, rendering the walls and the guards redundant. Minimum restraint promotes self-discipline among inmates. Prisoners live in a fully functional social environment, with a choice of paid work and often accompanied by their families. This reflects the model’s focus on reformation and re-integration instead of punishment, and is a major reason why escapes from open prisons are extremely rare. Strikingly, the rate of recidivism among convicts is also negligible.

What makes open prisons an even more attractive alternative is its cost. There are few guards which reduces human resource burden on the state’s prison department. Accordingly, open prisons are drastically cheaper than closed prisons. To be precise, comparative analysis shows that, on average, open prisons are 78 times cheaper than regular prisons.

Overall, open prisons are a humane alternative that poses less burden on public exchequer. Considering all the above arguments, it becomes increasingly clear that open prisons must be the norm, andclosed prisons – an exception.

Read the full report here.