Spending free time inside the jail is the most difficult task for the prisoners. The problem is even greater for undertrials as there is no pressure on them to do any work and their term in jail is also not fixed.
Vartika Nanda, a writer and journalist for prisoners, has been working for a long time. This effort of his has become a popular and commendable campaign in the form of Tinka-Tinka. You too should be a part of his campaign. This article is presented.
Reform in Prison
Olympic medalist wrestler Sushil Kumar, serving a sentence in Tihar Jail for murder, has demanded a TV set in his jail cell.
Sushil Kumar has been kept in a separate cell instead of being kept in the jail barracks due to security reasons.
He does not have a TV set in this cell. In such a situation, he is finding it difficult to spend time in jail, so he has written a letter to the jail administration requesting him to provide a TV set for himself.
Reform in Prison: Can I be allowed to watch TV?
According to Nelson Mandela Rules 2015, inmates can be allowed to watch TV in prison. Similarly, the provision of watching TV in jail has also been included in the Model Prison Manual 2016 and Delhi Prison Manual 2018.
In fact, barracks in prisons around the world usually have a provision to provide TV sets so that the prisoners can stay connected to the outside world.
Information, news and entertainment have been recognized as the basic needs of prisoners.
But the availability of all such facilities of communication and limited freedom depends on the “good conduct” of the prisoners.
Prison manuals of all countries clearly state that if the conduct of the prisoner is disciplinary in the prison and his behaviour is not a problem for the prison administration, then he can be given such facilities in a limited area, which include watching TV.
Permission is also included but this exemption will be treated as a “feature” and not as a right.
Actually, spending free time inside the jail is the most difficult task for the prisoners. The problem is even greater for undertrials as there is no pressure on them to do any work and their term in jail is also not fixed.
They don’t seem to care about anything other than getting out of jail. In such a situation, the prisoners prefer to watch TV instead of doing any work.
Reform in Prison: Prisoners and Jails in India
Jail is a state subject in India. Therefore, every state has the right to decide what content should be provided to jail inmates, which channels are allowed to be shown and for how many hours TV should be kept on.
There is a provision of running a TV for 24 hours in some jails, while some jails of the country keep it tied for a period of a few hours so that the prisoners do not watch TV day and night.
But despite this, the truth is that there are both sour and sweet experiences of TV presence inside the prison. During the research done in the prison in the last few years, very interesting results have been seen regarding the TV of the jail.
A prisoner who had served a 21-year sentence in a Maharashtra jail told me that when he went to jail, he didn’t have a TV in his jail. For many years, he felt that Sholay was the most popular film even today.
After many years, when the TV came to the barracks, he came to know that the world he had left outside at the time of coming to the jail, that world has gone far ahead.
In such a situation, due to the facilities of newspaper, TV, telephone or letter inside the jail, the prisoners keep getting information about the outside world.
Due to the closure of meetings during the time of Corona, the communication of the prisoners with the people outside has been very limited. In such a situation, the telephone facility has also been expanded for the prisoners.
In Uttar Pradesh alone, earlier prisoners used to get 2 minutes to talk on the phone, which was reduced to 5-10 minutes during Corona.
Similarly, whether a prisoner is entitled to write letters or access to pen and paper in prison depends on his “good conduct” and is largely decided by the superintendent alone.
Corrupt systems sometimes flourish under the guise of “good conduct”.
Reform in Prison: How justified is Sushil Kumar’s demand?
However, Sushil Kumar has demanded a TV set. It is up to the jail administration as to how it sees this demand of his. If seen from the side of legal and prison reform, the TV should be made available to him.
But it is surprising that to date the state governments have not considered how uncontrolled watching of TV can play with the mental and physical health of the prisoners.
A female prisoner in a jail in Uttar Pradesh told me that watching soap operas incessantly had kept her mind in an imaginary world.
Many petty criminals learn new formulas for committing crimes just by watching TV programs. Although watching crime programs is prohibited in prisons, many TV serials can connect with the ground of crime.
The producers have no idea that how many programs and dialogues made by them can harm society.
Lack of proper control over facilities and lack of keen eye on the content can destroy the whole concept of prison.
Reform in Prison: Prison discipline and the world of prisoners
By the way, the meaning of jail is the restriction or reduction of the desired movement and many more rights.
This place is seen as a punishment for a crime, but sometimes the jail authorities limit the prison to only discipline and prison numbers.
The prisoner does not lose his identity and he has the option of improving his skills or learning new skills, he rarely gets the attention of the jails. Sometimes prisons judge every person on the same scale.
Before coming to jail, every person has his own abilities which can be given a new face in the free time of jail, but often instead of converting this free time into an opportunity, the prisons either make the prisoners completely negligent or else They engage them in those works which have nothing to do with the nature and interest of the prisoner.
Outsiders think that the one who has gone to jail will come out with a change, but an environment of change will be created and the prisoner himself will want change, only then will change come.
There are many other prisons of its kind inside the jail, which do not go unnoticed by the common people.
Unless both prison administration and prisoners want to make changes equally, no outside power can improve the prison environment.
To walk on a ready-made old pattern is like building another prison inside a prison. In such a situation, jail radio can be seen as a worthwhile alternative.
The first jail radio in India came in Tihar itself. Later in 2019, when Tinka Tinka started Jail Radio in District Jail Agra, the country’s oldest prison building, its model has coined keeping in mind the needs and well being of prisoners.
This year Tinka Tinka has started radio in the jails of Haryana. Radios are ready in 7 jails. About 50 prisoners have become radio jockeys.
Now they are preparing their own content instead of ready-made programs being served on TV.
The two songs made by him have been appreciated by Dr Harsh Vardhan, the former Health Minister of the country himself.
With pen, paper and mike in his hands, he is creating a world of information, knowledge and entertainment for his prisons every day in which everything is pure, that too beyond the race for TRP and profit.
That’s why there are many prisoners like Sushil Kumar whose jails can do some wonderful experiments to make good use of their time, provided the prison is ready to listen and execute.