Crime, Government of India, India, NCRB, Prison, Stories

More than 50% of the Convicts in Prisons by the end of 2017 were serving Life Imprisonment


By the end of 2017, there were a total of 1.39 lakh convicts serving their sentence in Indian prisons. More than 95% of these convicts were male and more than 70% are those who were either illiterate or only studied up to Class X. Data also shows that more than 50% of the convicts were serving life imprisonment.


The age and education levels of under-trials as per the data in the Prison Statistics of India for 2017 were discussed in an earlier story by Factly. This story aims to look at the social aspects of the convicts, their age, education, type of offence and punishment.

Convicts, unlike under-trials, are those who have been found guilty of having committed a crime. Prison Statistics of India for 2017 was released by the NCRB recently. As on 31 December 2017, there were a total of 4.5 lakh inmates across various jails in India. Convicts comprised of 31% of the inmates. Of the 1.39 lakh convicts, 1.33 lakh (95.6%) were male and 6,051 (4.3%) were female convicts.

One-fifth of the total convicts were reported in Uttar Pradesh

Uttar Pradesh accounted for the largest number of convicts in jails. Almost one-fifth the total convicts in Indian jails were in the jails of Uttar Pradesh. 20% of the male convicts and 17% of the female convicts in the country were reported in Uttar Pradesh. Also, 29% of the prison inmates in Uttar Pradesh are convicts compared to the national average of 31%.

Even if the number of convicts in Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Assam along with those from UTs of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Delhi, Daman and Diu and Pondicherry are combined (23,239), which is convicts in 16 States & 5 UTs, the number is still 15.4% less than the number of convicts in Uttar Pradesh (27,501).

Convicts in Prisons_Top ten states with number of Convicts in Prisons

Following Uttar Pradesh is Madhya Pradesh with 17,273 convicts or 12.4% of the all the convicts in India.  Maharashtra and Punjab have reported more than 9000 convicts each. It is also observed that the convicts in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Punjab alone constitute 46% of the total convicts in the country.

Half of the convicts were those aged between 30 to 50 years

The age group data of the convicts reveals that 50% of the convicts belonged to the age group of 30 to 50 years. Another 31% belonged to the age group of 18 to 30 years. Those who were 50 years of age and above made up the remaining 19%.

Convicts in Prisons_Age profile of Convicts

While 51% of the female convicts were of the age group between 30 to 50 years of age, those female convicts above 50 years of age accounted for 25% of the total female convicts. The only male convict below 18 years of age was incarcerated in West Bengal.

92% of the convicts were imprisoned in their state of domicile

92% of the convicts belonged to the state in which they were reported to have been imprisoned. Another 7% are those convicts who did not belong to the state in which they were held captive while the rest belonged to another country.

Bangladeshis comprised 63% of the foreign convicts in Indian jails

Around 2,227 convicts were those belonging to different countries. 62% of the foreign convicts were reported in the prisons of West Bengal. Bangladeshis alone made up 63% of the foreign convicts. 283 people belonging to Nepal and 125 belonging to Myanmar were also convicted. 

More than 70% of the convicts were illiterate or educated up to class X

Just like in the case of under-trials, a large chunk (71%) of the convicts in prison was comprised of those who were either illiterate or were educated up to class X. Out of these, 42% of the convicts were educated below class X and the remaining 29% were illiterate.

Convicts in Prisons_Education profile of Convicts

Those who had education equivalent to graduation, diploma and above accounted for 9%. The remaining 20% comprised of those who had a qualification above class X but below graduation.

88% of the convicts were convicted for IPC crimes

Crimes committed by the convicts are broadly categorised as those committed under Indian Penal Code (IPC) and those under Special and Local Laws (SLL).  88% of the convicts committed crimes under the IPC and the remaining under SLL.

Of those who committed crimes under IPC, 84% were convicted of offences affecting the human body like rape, murder, dowry death, kidnap and assault. More than 70,000 convicts who were behind the bars were those involved in murder and a further 10,890 were convicted for rape.

Uttar Pradesh accounted for largest number of convicts for offences against women and SC/ST

Uttar Pradesh accounted for 45% of the convicts in the country for dowry deaths. 22.6% of convicts for murder and 42% of those arrested for offences against SC/ST were also reported in Uttar Pradesh. Maharashtra accounted for almost 11% of those convicted for offences against property such as arson, burglary and theft.

The number of convicts held for crimes against women was the highest in Uttar Pradesh. 26% (4847) of those convicted for crimes against women were in Uttar Pradesh. Madhya Pradesh, which reported the second highest number of convicts under the same head accounted for 12.5% (less than half of Uttar Pradesh) of the total across the country.

Convicts in Prisons_Types of offences

Punjab had the largest number of convicts under liquor and narcotics related acts

Under Special and Local Laws, 9,637 convicts were imprisoned for liquor and narcotics under the Prohibition Act, Excise Act and the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act. They made up for 7% of the total convicts and 57% of those convicted under SLL.

Punjab accounted for the maximum number of convicts held for liquor and narcotics related offences i.e. 3,993 out of the total 9,637 which is 41% of the total. In fact, those convicted under these acts made up for 41% of the total convicts in Punjab.

347 convicts in jail are those who have been sentenced to capital punishment

Capital punishment refers to the most severe form of punishment in the country for the most heinous and gruesome offences. In India, according to the Code of Criminal Procedure, capital punishment is the death sentence.

In 2017 alone, 121 convicts were sentenced to capital punishment. A total of 347 convicts in the prisons by the end of 2017 were those sentenced to death. 19% of them were reported in Maharashtra followed by Uttar Pradesh (14%) and West Bengal (11%).

Convicts in Prisons_Duration of confinement of Convicts

Almost 53% of the convicts in the jails were those who were serving life imprisonment. Those undergoing sentence of 10 to 13 years accounted for 15% of the total convicts in jails.

Even after the completion of their sentence, a total of 1658 convicts were still detained in prisons for not paying the penalty imposed upon them. Around 1.18 lakh convicts were released in 2017 after their conviction period. Around 53,133 convicts were released on bail. About 3,372 convicts were reported to be suffering from mental illnesses in 2017.


About Author

A bachelor’s degree in mathematics and master’s in social science, she is driven by ardent desire to work with this unique combination to create her own path instead of following the herd. Having served a stint as the college union chairperson, she is a strategist who is also passionate about nature conservation, art and loves solving Sudoku.