PRESS RELEASE: “NLUO Celebrates Utkala Divasa and Hosts One Day Consultation Programme on Promoting Mental Health of Prison Inmates.”


NLUO conducted a one-day consultation programme on promoting mental health of prison inmates by releasing ICSSR Report on Patterns of Prison Adjustments and Psychological Intervention for Correction Facilities in Prisons of Odisha, headed by Dr. Arjyalopa Mishra, on the event of Utkal Divas. ICSSR was established in the year of 1969 by the Government of India to promote research in social sciences in the country.

The welcome address was given by Prof. Ved Kumari, Vice Chancellor, National Law University Odisha, where she emphasised on the grave issue of prison reforms, as well as stereotypes concerning mental illness. She mentioned the horrible living condition of prisons in the country and also talked about the difference in consequences of long term and short-term prison sentences, and how difficult it is for prisoners to come out after a long term and reintegrate in the external world.

The welcome address was followed by the briefing of the ICSSR Report on Patterns of Prison Adjustments and Psychological Intervention for Correction Facilities in Prisons of Odisha by the Project Director, Dr. Arjyalopa Mishra. Dr. Mishra shared her journey on getting the project approved as well as her experiences gained while interacting with prisoners. The aim of the project was to comprehend distinct psychological coping styles and their demographic correlates via the application of standardized psychological tools among prisoners in the state of Odisha. The Project Director shared that the study report will contribute in making impactful policy changes in the prison administration of the state of Odisha. The findings of this project can enable the development of targeted strategies for different groups of inmates to enhance their psychological wellbeing and coping.

The Chief Guest of the occasion, Hon’ble Mr. Justice S.K. Panigrahi delivered his address in which he quoted Nelson Mandela and described how a nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones. He mentioned that undertrial prisoners are more than convicted ones in Odisha. He noted the unhygienic living conditions of the prisoners as well as the pathetic conditions of the kitchens. He noted that poor mental health of prisoners is neglected in public health policies and agendas. He also described how prisoners feel hopeless and powerless as a result of loss of contact with the outside world, loss of responsibility and enforced idleness, brutality and beatings by prison officials, loss of position and friends, drugs and loss of prospects outside the institution. He ended his address citing the need for more mental health awareness camps for jail officials to sensitise them.

Dr. Satyajit Mohanty, Chairman of OPSC, laid emphasis on the importance of mental health of prisoners and appreciated the empirical nature of the project conducted by Dr. Mishra. He shared his experience in rehabilitation of prison inmates during his time as DIG of Prisons and mentioned how prisoners face social ostracization during reintegration in the society.  

Mr. Subhakanta Mishra, DIG of Prisons also shared his insights on the infrastructural issues faced by prisons in India as well as the low staff to prisoner ratio. He noted that jails in Odisha are overburdened and most jails do not have a pharmacist. He explained the need for clinical psychologists in jails. He reiterated that jail is a place of reformation and not punishment.

Dr. Jigyansa Patnaik and Prof. Dr. Pratap Rath also shared their inputs on the identification of mental illness and need for mental health awareness. Other notable speakers included Ms. Namrata Chadha who delivered her address on rehabilitation of women prisoners and Ms. Madhurima Dhunuka, Programme Head of CHRI on the Prison Reform Project.

The Legal Aid students of the reputed Prison Advocacy Clinic, NLUO also released legal aid handouts. The event concluded with the presentation of mementos and the vote of thanks by Prof. Yogesh Pratap Singh, Registrar, National Law University Odisha followed by cultural performances by the students.







National Law University Odisha

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