Some elderly prisoners in India may be granted early parole because of major overcrowding, according to an article in Hindustan Times.
Prisons in the state of Uttar Pradesh currently hold 60,504 prisoners, compared to against a designed capacity of 35,870, the article reported.
The state government is implementing measures to evaluate whether certain elderly inmates serving life sentences should be released on the grounds that they no longer pose a threat to society.
“May God grant me release from the world,” said a 92-year-old prisoner known as Babu, translated from his native tongue: “Bhagwan humko utha le ab.”
Babu is too frail to accomplish basic tasks such as using the bathroom or eating without help, said the article. Babu has been incarcerated for nearly 25 years.
Lal Singh, 90, is another prisoner who might benefit from early release. Singh is blind and suffers from various other ailments. He has been locked up close to three decades.
Inmates are currently dying in overcrowded facilities due to a lack of basic medical treatment, said the article. The new policy lists conditions for early release, including an inmate’s age and time spent incarcerated.
“Scores of old, infirm and seriously ill inmates, who no longer pose a threat to the society, are stuffed in jails for lack of a proper policy, and now they all have hope of release,” said BR Verma, a deputy inspector general.
The new guidelines allow male convicts to petition for parole after serving 16 years and women can petition after serving 14 years.
All inmates can petition for early release after they have served 12 years, if they are more than 70 years old and after serving 10 years if they are over 80.
The law specifically excludes certain convicts such as mass murderers (three or more killings), professional killers, terrorists, non-Indian citizens, inmates serving multiple life sentences, or inmates who have tried to escape.
The policy also provides guidelines for certain inmates who are suffering from a specific list of serious and incurable diseases and have served at least 10 years of their sentence.
All lifers’ petitions will be evaluated by a state level committee, and all inmates released must post a bond as a guarantee of continued lawful conduct, said the article.
Abhilasha Singh had these comments on the potential release of her father, Lal Singh:
“I visited him in jail in November 2017. He is on a wheelchair and could not even lift his hand to bless me. If he is released, I will take care of him. We are five sisters in all. Four of us were married off by my mother as my father never got parole to attend even our wedding.
“I know that he will not live long. But I will be able to take care of him in his last days.”