Detention, not conviction for 18-21 age group: HC

In a major directive, the Kerala high court has asked all the subordinate judicial officers in the state to order detention – instead of conviction – of offenders in the age group 18-21 to the Borstal school.

The directive was issued pursuant to a request made by Director General of Prisons and Correctional Services ADGP Alexander Jacob.

Alexander Jacob pointed out that sending young offenders to central prisons would not help curb their criminal tendencies.

For the past ten years, no convict was sent to the Borstal school at Kakkanad, the only such school in the state, though it was renovated in 2002.

The Supreme Court had, in 2008, stressed that the young offenders should not be sent to the central prisons. It was after considering all these aspects that the Jail DGP sent the request to the high court.

Assistant Registrar Sabu K. Varghese considered the request and, after an in-depth study, he issued an order directing all the subordinate courts not to send young offenders to the central prison, and instead, detain them at the Borstal school.

The court asked the trial courts to pass the order as per the Kerala Borstal School Act and Rules, 1961.

The act stipulates that the court should pass an order of detention in a Borstal school, of those who are serving a jail term of a minimum of two years and a maximum of seven years.

But, in any case, the adolescent offender cannot continue at the Borstal school after attaining the age of 23 years.

“Currently, young offenders are serving their jail terms at the central prison along with hardcore criminals which will do no good for them. At Borstal school, they will get better facilities, better food, and quality education,” said Alexander Jacob.

However, experts point to the impact and impracticality of the order as many offenders between the age group are hardened criminals.

According to criminologist James Wadakkanchery, the Borstal school system will help in reforming the young offenders.

After serving a term at the school, they can be sent to their homes, keeping them away from the criminals in central prisons.

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