"We who live in prison, and in whose lives there is no event but sorrow, have to measure time by throbs of pain, and the record of bitter moments."- Oscar Wilde
Why should prisons be painful? Do prisons all over the world really serve the purpose of being "correctional institutions"? Why are prisoners abused so much that they become hardcore criminals even after they come out of prison? No, shrugging your shoulders would not answer it neither is it as simple as saying that they live with other criminals and take their ways. Prisons are not rectifying criminals, because the system in place is faulty.
Inmates in prisons are being treated even worse than animals. They live in such unfit conditions that it is impossible to sometimes feel human. Let me give you a recent instance. A software engineer was mistakenly arrested and he had to be in prison for some fifty days. Let me describe his experience in the prison. The leading dailies of the nation kept on stating that the engineer was kept with other hardened criminals but I would state that all of them were going through the same system malfunctioning, some of them were rightfully there and some of them not, like the techie.
Where are the prisons falling short?
It is stated by the techie that they had one bowl in which they had to eat and use the same one in the toilet. Is this humane? This reminds me of another instance where a lady writes that each inmate was given two minutes to complete all their washing, cleaning, and changing, apart from filling water for themselves for the entire day after waiting in the line for approximately five to six hours. This is just one facet of it; female inmates are raped and beaten so that they do not raise their voices. Male inmates are also exposed to sexual and mental harassment. They are tortured in such a way that when these people step out of the jail, they cannot appreciate life because they no longer remain "alive" in the true sense of the term. Is this the purpose of sending people to jail? What kind of retribution is this? Governments have to form well-drafted policies as to what kind of treatment should the inmates be exposed to. The policies cannot be jailer-dependent.
How can the condition be improved?
The first thing that has to be done is respect the criminals for the only reason that they are human beings and therefore deserve humane treatment. Jail authorities have to be intimated on the fact that though these prisoners are in a vulnerable condition, they are not supposed to take undue advantage of that vulnerability. Attention should be given in maintaining basic hygiene conditions. There should be ways of educating the prisoners on various subjects which most of them are not exposed to all their lives. Debates should be held so that they can voice their opinions about things that they like and they don't. There should be counseling sessions in which they can be helped.
I know this sounds ideal but if we endeavor for the ideal we will reach somewhere close to it, given the flaws of human nature and character.