Parole, furlough not an absolute right, need to protect society, review guidelines: MHA to states

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Written by Deeptiman Tiwary | New Delhi | Updated: September 4, 2020 7:57:30 pm

The MHA has asked states not to release such prisoners who are considered a threat to security of the state or individuals

Expressing concern over crimes being committed by prisoners on parole, furlough and those prematurely released, the Ministry of Home Affairs Friday sent an advisory to states asking them to exercise due diligence and follow guidelines issued by the ministry in releasing prisoners. It has also asked them to review their existing practices for such exercise.

The advisory has argued that “release on parole is not an absolute right” rather It is a “concession”. It has asked states not to release such prisoners who are considered a threat to security of the state or individuals and to grant such concessions as “matter of routine” to those involved in heinous crimes.

“Imprisonment besides being a mode of punishment also aims at protecting the society from criminal activities. A balance is, therefore, considered essential between ensuring the rights of inmates and protectIng the society from further harm,” the advisory has said.

It has said prison is a state subject and all States have their own rules for parole, furlough, remission and premature release based on good conduct of the prisoners. It has, however, said that concerns have been raised about such prisoners committing crimes once out of jail and thus states must carefully regulate release of prisoners.

“It is, therefore, important for State authorities to review their guidelines to ensure that the facility and concession given to inmates, by way of parole, furlough and premature release etc. with the intention of providing them relief and rehabilitation, is not abused and misused by them and their advantage does not turn into disadvantage and nuisance for the society at large, ” the advisory has said.

It has asked states to include four new provisions in the guidelines for release of prisoners. These include:

*Grant of parole and furlough to those offenders, whose release may have adverse impact on the security of the State or safety of individuals, may be strictly restricted.

*The parole rules of States, including the criteria, duration and frequency may be reviewed after making an assessment based on their experience about the benefits and detriments of such parole.

*Parole and furlough may not be granted as a matter of routine and may be decided by a Committee of officers and behavioural experts, who may meet as per requirement, keeping in view all relevant factors, especially for inmates sentenced for sexual offences. serious crimes such as murder, child abduction, violence etc.

*It may be useful to invariably include an expert Psychologist/Criminologist/ Correctional Administration Expert as a member of the Sentence Review Board and in the Committee which decides grant of parole and furlough to inmates and obtain their opinion before such temporary release

It has asked states to review their practices based on Model Prison Manual, 2016 and guidelInes issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, NHRC and the Supreme Court in such matters.

“Further, in order to ensure that inmates released on parole. furlough and premature release etc. do not violate law, systems must be put in place for monitoring and follow up of each case. An action taken report may please be sent to MHA,” the advisory has said.

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