Crime, India, Stories

Indian Prisons are Overcrowded & 2/3rd of the Inmates are Under Trials


According to the Prison Statistics of the National Crime Records Bureau(NCRB) for the year 2013, Indian Prisons are overcrowded with occupancy ratio of 18% more than the capacity. More than 2/3rd of the inmates are undertrials & Women inmates constitute just 4.4% of the total inmates in prisons. Chhattisgarh tops the list with occupancy ratio of more than double the capacity.


It is not just our buses and trains that are overcrowded, our Prisons are also overcrowded according to the prison statistics of the NCRB. Our prisons nationally have an occupancy ratio of 118.4%, 18% more than the capacity of the prison. And not surprisingly, 2/3rd of the inmates are under trials, thanks to the slow pace of our judicial process.

Number of Jails & Occupancy Ratio

There are various types of Jails in the country like Central Jails, District Jails, Sub Jails, Women Jails, Open Jails, Borstal Schools, Special Jails & other Jails.

Type of JailNumber of JailsTotal CapacityOccupancy RatioDetails
Central Jails130151421121.2%Are Jails that have larger capacity than other jails. Also have rehabilitation facilities.
District Jails346126909134.7%They serve as the main prisons in states
Sub Jails7804699392.1%Jails at the lower levels.
Women Jails19482770.4%Specially for Women.
Borstal Schools21243850.2%Set up to ensure care, welfare and rehabilitation of young offenders in a different environment suitable for children
Open Jails53431670.1%Prisoners with good behaviour satisfying certain norms prescribed in the prison rules are admitted in open prisons. Minimum security is kept in such prisons & prisoners are engaged in agricultural activities
Special Jails381049060.1%Any prison provided for the confinement of a particular class or particular classes of prisoner
Other Jails446555.9%NA


There are 1391 jails in the country. 80% of the capacity is in the Central & District jails. They are also the ones that are overcrowded beyond capacity. All the other jails have an occupancy ratio of less than 100%. Women jails are present in only 12 of the 35 States/UTs. Only 10 states have Borstal schools. Only 16 states have Open jails and only 12 states have Special Jails.

In terms of occupancy ratio, Chhattisgarh tops the list with an occupancy ratio of 261. This could be because of Maoist problem in the state. Second in the list are UTs (including Delhi) with an occupancy ratio that is 74% more than the capacity. It is also interesting to note that most of these states have high crime rates and hence the overcrowding. In the bottom 10, big states like Andhra Pradesh, Bihar & Tamil Nadu find a place. Only 11 states have an occupancy ratio less than 100%, that is to say that the number of inmates is less than the capacity.



Number of Male Vs Female Inmates

At the national level, about 4.4% of all the inmates are female. The highest percentage of female inmates is 7.6% in Mizoram followed by Andhra Pradesh (6.3%), West Bengal (6.1%) & Maharashtra (5.7%). Only 8 states have more than 5% female inmates. Tripura, Kerala, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya have less than 3% female inmates.

Number of Male vs Female Inmates -  Indian Prisons


Number of Under Trials & Convicts in Jails

One major cause for the overcrowding is the large number of under trials in prisons. This is a sad reflection of the pace of our judicial system that is painstakingly slow. More than 2/3rd of all the prison mates are under trials. More than 20% of these under trials are in the prison for a period of more than a year.

Break up of Undertrail vs Convicts in Prisons  - Indian Prisons.png

The state trends are also interesting. Percentage of under trials in 15 states is more than the national average. This percentage is more than 70% in 12 states. Topping the percentage of under trials is Meghalaya with 91.2% followed by Arunachal Pradesh (88%), Manipur (87.2%), Bihar (85.6%) and Jammu & Kashmir (83.3%). Four of the top 10 states are from the North East. It could well be a pointer to large number of arrests & detentions in the North East and also Jammu & Kashmir. It is a fair reflection of the performance of the lower judiciary in these states.

Percentage of Under Trials in Prisons - Top 10 States - Indian Prisons

Age Group of the Inmates

42% of the total inmates in prisons are less than 30 years old. A total of 87% of the inmates are less than 50 years old while the remaining 13% are more than 50 years old.

Age Group of Prison Inmates - Indian Prisons

Source: Prison Statistics India 2013, National Crime Records Bureau





About Author

Rakesh has been working on issues related to Right to Information (RTI) for a decade. He is a Data/Information enthusiast & passionate about Governance/Policy issues.