From 1995 to 2014, 999 suicides were reported inside Indian prisons. Tamil Nadu alone has seen 141 of them. The State houses less than 4 per cent of the country’s prisoners, yet it accounts for 14 per cent of suicides inside prisons. With such a poor track record, the State machinery should at least deliberate possible solutions.
Is Tamil Nadu the bad apple or is the entire orchard rotten? Data show that in the last 20 years, three inmates on average have been found dead daily in Indian prisons. In 2014, there were five deaths every day, so 35 deaths in a typical week. Two of these deaths were suicides. In the same period, the death rate inside prisons rose by 42 per cent. Ninety per cent of these deaths were recorded as ‘natural’, but what constitutes ‘natural’ in a custodial set-up is questionable.