More than 10.2 million people are imprisoned over the world. A jail is a place where lawbreakers who commit horrible crimes are imprisoned and held captive. People have a misconception that criminals are sent to prison for a reason other than punishment. People have a typical perception that when a prisoner is incarcerated, he has lost his rights to liberty since he is compelled to live in a closed, constrained environment. According to the most recent numbers available for India (verified by World Prison Brief), the country has 4,78,600 inmates (including pre-trial detainees). The majority of Indian convicts are uneducated, poor, and belong to a marginalised social group with insufficient awareness of their health and lifestyle practises. As a result, they form a unique and vulnerable health population that necessitates specific treatment.
The problem of hygiene in India has been exacerbated by overcrowding. Conditions are deplorable in many jails. Even minimal amenities are not available in tehsil-level jails. In India, inmates are not even screened for certain infectious diseases, despite the fact that all prisoners are given a medical assessment when they start serving their sentence. At the national level, there have been no research on the prevalence of viral illnesses among inmates. Prisoners suspected of possessing contagious diseases are segregated according to Indian jail guidelines. A few jails have formed informal partnerships with medical and social service organisations to provide convicts with counselling in order to reduce illness spread.
There are numerous reasons for violence in prisons.
Conflicts can be sparked by ethnic tensions or rivalries between clans or gangs. Hostility among detainees is exacerbated by the cramped, frequently severely overcrowded housing circumstances. The monotonous jail atmosphere, a lack of mental and physical stimulation, and plain boredom all contribute to a build-up of frustration and anxiety. This setting encourages high-risk behaviours such as drug usage and male-on-male sex. Some people engage in these activities in order to avoid boredom. Others, on the other hand, are compelled to participate in them in order to earn power or money.
Inmates and communicable diseases
Overcrowding in India has increased the problem of sanitation. Many prisons have horrible conditions. At the tehsil level, even basic facilities are not available. Despite the fact that all detainees are given a medical check when they begin serving their sentence, inmates in India are not even examined for certain infectious diseases. Inmates are known to be susceptible to sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C. Detainees’ hostility is heightened by their confined, usually highly overcrowded living conditions.
Mental illness and suicide in Indian prisons
Another major public health concern is mental illness, which affects a large number of prisoners. It is crucial to detect and treat people with mental health illnesses for the sake of justice and to ensure the protection of basic human rights, which is a cornerstone of the Indian constitution and society. Mental diseases are three times more common in jails than in the general population, according to studies conducted around the world.
To test Indian medical students’ comprehension of prisoners’ health rights, a pilot survey was undertaken. According to the statistics, 91.8 percent of the students had received less than an hour of prisoner health education.
This data only reinforces the need for the government and medical institutions to develop specialised training that is sensitive to the needs of inmates and the prison environment.