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Reformatory Homes and Human Rights

Reformative homes are establishments created to offer assistance for rehabilitation and reintegration to those who have engaged in criminal activity. These houses' main goal is to help criminals modify their conduct and become law-abiding citizens by providing them with assistance, direction, and resources. It is crucial to remember that the delivery of rehabilitation services must adhere to the fundamentals of human rights.

This means that during the rehabilitation process, the people's human rights should be preserved and safeguarded. This paper is attempted to understand the purpose of the reformatory homes with the drawback of this homes. It further focus on the problems that why reformation is still not achieved and also content some international legislation supporting prison reform and alternative step of reformatory homes.

A correctional facility is a place where people who have committed relatively minor crimes and are seen to be reformable are detained. The reformative philosophy of punishment is something that India still adheres to and supports. The reformative strategy is all-encompassing and concentrates on changing the person on many levels. This strategy was developed to help people learn to atone for crimes they have done, and it serves as a tool for self-realization.

Reformative homes, which are often referred to as correctional facilities or juvenile detention facilities, are places where people who have been found guilty of a crime are sent to carry out their sentences. These facilities' main objectives are the rehabilitation and reformation of the people under their care, as well as the societal reintegration of such people. These facilities are often structured in a way that encourages personal growth, with the idea being to provide an environment that encourages the development of values and attitudes that are conducive to positive behaviour.

Human rights in light of reformation:

"A sentence of imprisonment constitutes only a deprivation of the basic right to liberty. It does not entail the restriction of other human rights, with the exception of those which are naturally restricted by the very fact of being in prison. Prison reform is necessary to ensure that this principle is respected, the human rights of prisoners protected and their prospects for social reintegration increased, in compliance with relevant international standards and norms."[1]

Regarding the human rights of those living in reformative homes, there have been various concerns expressed. Overcrowding, a lack of access to healthcare and education, staff mistreatment, and solitary confinement are a some of the issues raised by these worries. In addition to these general issues, there is also a need for reformative homes to create secure environments that are free from abuse and foster positive development of its inhabitants.

Purpose of Reformatory Homes:

"The premise from which Bentham started was that no two people are the same, no two crimes are the same, and it is the duty of the law to accommodate such variables before inflicting pain, in the name of the state, for the protection of itself and other citizen members of that state."[2] It is based on that penal system should reform the criminal not simply punish him it is to make them valuable to society.

Basically 3 purpose is there for the availability of Reformatory Homes:

  • Treatment
  • Training
  • Social Rehabilitation
Sometimes in prison also there is a fold of correctional homes. For example: Jail bhajiya house, Jail Bakery, Jail Furniture homes, Making Curry (giving to prisoners on payments), Vocational training etc. By this they will feel they are valuable

Reformatory houses with a human rights component are part of the current system. It provides criminals with hope that they will be able to re-join society and their loved ones, including family, friends, and kids, in a secure manner. A change in attitude is also brought about by it, and this attitude shift results in rehabilitation.

Drawback of Reformative Homes:

The circumstances in reformative homes, according to several human rights organisations, violate people's constitutional rights to be free from torture and other cruel, inhumane, or humiliating treatment or punishment. In addition, they contend that the dearth of healthcare and education provided in these facilities makes it challenging for former inmates to properly reintegrate into society.

Some have argued for a change away from traditional punitive approaches to correction in favour of a more rehabilitative and restorative justice paradigm in order to address these problems. Instead, then merely penalising the offender, this strategy would concentrate on resolving the root reasons of criminal conduct, such as poverty, mental health conditions, and addiction.

Mainly drawbacks are:
  • General allegation is on cruelty hand of managements.
  • Sexual Exploitation.
  • Discrimination.
  • Lack of Counselling.
  • Money Consideration.
There is absolutely no solid legislation for this. Adoption of some strict restrictions is required.

"The Supreme Court has listed nine significant issues that require immediate attention in order to achieve reformation in its landmark ruling in Ramamurthy v. State of Karnataka:
  • Rampant Overcrowding:
    With an occupancy ratio 14% higher than the jails' capacity, India's prisons are overcrowded. The separation of major minor offenders and criminals has proven to be challenging in many institutions because of the extreme congestion, which can have a negative effect on minor offenders. Due to their ongoing interactions with serious criminals, they might develop into career offenders.
  • Torture and Neglect:
    The convicts, including those who are awaiting trial, are subjected to the worst forms of torture, compelled to perform arduous tasks that are against the law without receiving any payment. The number of people killed while in custody as a result of torture and other cruel treatment of inmates has been steadily rising. Prisoners who are women are more likely to be abused.
  • Delay in Trials:
    Statistics show that 67% of those incarcerated in Indian jails are awaiting trial. Under trials refers to those who are being held in custody during a trial, investigation, or inquiry but have not yet been found guilty of a crime by a court of law.
  • Poor hygiene and health:
    The conditions for prisoners in India are extremely unsanitary, there are inadequate medical facilities, and there is always a possibility of abuse and torture. Due to a lack of hygienic facilities, female detainees suffer more in these jails. It could occur throughout their pregnancy or because of other issues.
  • Severe staff crunch:
    "While 33% of the aggregate prerequisite of jail authorities still lies vacant, right around 36% of opening for regulating officers is yet unfulfilled. The ratio between the prison staff and the prison population is approximately 1:7. It means only one prison officer is available for 7 prisoners, while in the UK, 2 prison officers are available for every 3 prisoners. Without adequate prison staff, overcrowding in the prisons prompts widespread savagery and other criminal exercises inside the prisons."[3]
  • Communication Problem:
    Without any communication with anyone from the outside world, including their family and relatives, the convicts are left to live in isolation. They are still in the dark concerning the whereabouts and welfare of their family.
  • A lack of nourishment and inadequate attire:
    There is barely enough food and clothing offered in the prisons to get by. For the convicts, it is insufficient and inadequate, which has a negative impact on their health.
  • Psychological effect:
    Prisons become shocking wrecks with subpar living circumstances due to a lack of inspection and careless use of oversight tools. The mental state of the prisoner is impacted by this flaw in the criminal justice system. It has negative psychological impacts on the prisoner, including as sadness, claustrophobia, anxiety and panic attacks, stress, and more, making the prisoner more susceptible to criminal tendencies than previously. The inmate departs from prison more damaged than better.
  • Control of outdoor jails:
    Due to the current overcrowded situation in the jails, staff shortages, and other factors, managing open-air prisons becomes increasingly challenging.
  • Inequalities in laws and the administration of justice:
    It is clear that there are differences in how the legislation is applied and implemented. The remission laws that each state has in place vary widely. The severity of the punishment varies depending on the length.
  • Transparency issues:
    The lack of openness in the Indian court system is another problem. The Right to Information (RTI) Act is evidently completely outside the purview of the judicial system. As a result, important concerns like the nature of accountability and equity are not properly understood in the way the judiciary operates."[4]

International Legislations:

  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
    In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly launched a movement with the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It lays down the rules for how justice will be administered. Several significant clauses that have been incorporated into the draught include the following:
    1. No one should be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.[5]
    2. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.[6]
    3. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.[7]
    4. Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.[8]
  • The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
    The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) remains the core international treaty on the protection of the rights of prisoners. India ratified the Covenant in 1979 and is bound to incorporate its provisions into domestic law and state practice.[9]
  • The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESR)[10]
    The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESR) states that prisoners have a right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health."[11] In addition to their civil and political rights, inmates are also entitled to the so-called second-generation economic and social human rights outlined in the ICESR.
  • Declaration on Protection from Torture, 1975
    The UN General Assembly by consensus adopted a declaration on the protection of torture. This declaration acts in tandem with the human rights principles of an individual and protects that person from any kind of torture, or inhuman and cruel behaviour.[12]
  • General UN directives
    The UN standard Minimum Rule also made it mandatory to provide separate residence for young and child prisoners from the adult prisoners. Subsequent UN directives have been the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners (United Nations 1990)"[13] "for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment (United Nations 1988) [14]
  • Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment
    The UN Assembly adopted, a document called Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment wherein the responsibility is shouldered on the state to take steps for effective judicial, legislative and administrative methods. Further, it clearly lays down the rules for interrogation and certain other instructions have been enumerated. Though this is a concrete piece of legislation but unfortunately India has yet not ratified to it. [15]


The following are some legal options open to those residing in reformative homes:
  • Habeas Corpus:
    A writ of habeas corpus is a legal requirement that a detention institution produce a person who is being detained in custody and provide documentation to support their continued imprisonment.
  • Bail:
    A court may order a person to be released from detention in return for money or some other kind of security.
  • Parole:
    Under the supervision of a parole board or other authorities, parole is a type of conditional release that enables someone to serve the remaining time of their sentence outside of custody. This is commonly suggested by individuals who support human rights since parole allows a person to return to society on a short basis, which helps him restore his position and people's confidence.
  • Probation:
    It is a different option from prison. A defendant is released back into society under the terms of probation, much like a sentence that has been suspended, but they are not given the same freedoms as other citizens. For first-time offenders or criminals with little risk, courts typically grant probation.

    It is up to the sentencing judge to determine whether to actually allow probation, even if statutes specify when it is possible. A probationer is subject to a set of rules that regulate their behaviour, and the court has the authority to revoke or modify their probation if they break one of those rules. While enforcing probationary restrictions, courts are quite vigilant.
Some schools think that repeat offenders use this to commit additional crimes, but authorities cannot waste time on such ideas; they must instead come up with a remedy.

Furthermore, others have pushed for more community-based alternatives to reformative homes, such as community service or counselling, which might offer the same advantages as detention centres but with fewer restrictions on individual rights.

Legal experts must closely monitor the conditions in these facilities and work to ensure that the rights of people held in detention are protected in order to ensure that reformative homes adhere to the standards outlined in national and international laws and are capable of achieving their goal of rehabilitation and reintegration.

In closing, reformative homes play a significant part in the criminal justice system, although questions have been made concerning the human rights of those who reside in these facilities. Respecting the human rights of those under their care and working to establish more community-based alternatives are crucial if these institutions are to be successful in achieving their objective of rehabilitation and reintegration.

  1. United Nation (Office on drugs and crime), (last visited on Feb. 22 2023).
  2. A. Draper, An Introduction to Jeremy Bentham's theory of punishment, 5 JBS, 1-17 (2002).
  3. Basant Rath, Why We Need to Talk About the Condition of India's Prisons (The Wire, 26 July, 2017).
  4. Ramamurthy v. State of Karnataka, (1997) S.C.C. (Cri) 386.
  5. Art 1, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, (1948).
  6. Ibid, Art 3
  7. Ibid, Art 9
  8. Ibid, Art 11
  9. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, vol. 999, p. 171, Treaty Series, United Nations (1966).
  10. International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, vol. 993, p. 3, Treaty Series, UN General Assembly, United Nations, (1966).
  11. The Declaration on Protection from Torture, 1975, Art 2 and 3.
  12. U.N. General Assembly, Res 45/111 (14th December 1990).
  13. U.N. General Assembly, Res 43/ 173 (10th December 1984).
  14. U.N. General Assembly, Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, Res 39/46 (1984).

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Shivangi.R.Pandey
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