Mollshree Pareek, a 3rd year law student from Himachal Pradesh National Law University, Shimla highlights the plight and reverberations of individuals after being released from prison.

As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”[1]

Having spent twenty -seven years in the prison, this was the statement of Nelson Mandela when he was finally disenthralled. Punishment or sanctions are considered to be the buttress of the legal system. It is noteworthy that forms of punishment have changed, but the essence remains the same, which is to regulate the body and bodily movements. It is imperative to quote Damien and the concept of time table from Michael Foucault’s work wherein he has stated that though the modality of punishment changed yet, the instinct to control body remained at the centre.

It is believed that prisons are cardinal to the contemporary judicial system. Indeed, prisons have been a part of the juridical set up since time immemorial. Imprisonment leaves an indelible mark in the lives of prison released individuals. It is a well-accepted belief that the prisoners who are extricated carry within themselves an inkling as to whether they will be accepted by the society or not. Movies like Shawshank Redemption and Chapter & Verse highlight the plight and reverberations of prison released individuals. 

Some implications on the life of individuals after being released from prisons are as follows:

1. Mental health and disability: It is an undisputed fact that spending some years of one’s life in prison is nerve-wracking and emotionally challenging. After being convicted of an offence, an individual goes through a rigorous process which involves being imprisoned. It leaves huge impacts on a person’s mental health. It is difficult for that person to pretermit what had happened to him in prison. If the person does not get any immediate help, he is then caught in a vicious circle which further deepens the scars and abnormality caused by the state of imprisonment.[2]

Post Incarceration Syndrome: This syndrome often disrupts the life of released prisoners. It is a kind of mental disorder and is common among individuals who are recently released and have been subject to solitary confinements and rigorous imprisonment. This syndrome is generally caused by being exposed to such an environment which has little room for proper rehabilitation, vocational training and education. This syndrome may lead to the following consequences[3]:

  • Institutionalized personality traits- leads to exaggerated acts of defence against any individual.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder- leads to fostering of negative feelings and excessive anger outbursts.
  • Antisocial personality traits- leads to a feeling of hatred towards people in general.
  • Social- sensory deprivation syndrome- leads to sensory deprivation of feelings and sentiments.
  • Substance abuse disorders- leads to the use of drugs to cope with the antagonistic circumstances.

In the case of Hiralal Mallick v. State of Bihar[4] the Apex court had mentioned that “A prisoner insulated from the world becomes bestial and, if his family ties are snapped for long, becomes dehumanized.”

  1. Being declared a pariah:

 This is one of the most severe implications that is being faced. Once an individual returns from prison back to his community or society, he is generally not accepted by the other individuals of the society. Often it can be observed that he is declared to be a pariah or outcast. Along with the person released from prison, his family members also have to face the same consequences. This leaves a deep impact and has both psychological and materialistic reverberations.

  1. Difficulty in finding suitable occupation:

 A prison released individual has to undergo a lot of struggle to find a suitable occupation after being released. He is often being denied suitable employment owing to his past concatenated with imprisonment. Although, the government provides various opportunities and schemes with respect to the job prospects after being released. Yet, it is difficult for him to work somewhere with dignity and without being judged.

“The initial report examined the barriers, both internal and external, faced by the former prisoners in the early weeks following their release. Internal barriers included experiences with employment, trauma, mental health and substance abuse issues, and relationships. External barriers included lack of transportation, lack of telephone and internet services, housing instability, and limited employment opportunities that provided livable wages.[5]

  1. Loss of self- confidence:

Self- confidence is essential for an individual to develop and grow. However, individuals released from prison often lose their self-worth and self- confidence. They tend to foster lousy feelings for themselves. This serves as an impediment to their growth and success. They need to have support from their kith and kin to instil the feelings of self-reliance and confidence again.


As is suggested from the terminology, these services are organized for the following two categories:

1. Prisoners released from incarceration.

2. Individuals are suffering from any physical and social handicap owing to certain obstreperous circumstances. 

The Prison Manual (2016) lists certain objectives of these after care services:

1. To provide help, assistance, guidance and counselling to the released prisoners.

2. To help in removing any stigma imposed on his family because of the prisoner’s incarceration.

3. He impressed upon the individual the need to adjust his/her habits, attitudes, approaches and values to a rational appreciation of social responsibilities and obligations and the requirements of community living.

4. Helping the individual in making satisfactory readjustment with his/her family, neighborhood, work group, and the community.[6]


DBM Patnaik v. State of Andhra Pradesh[7]

The Apex Court had mentioned that detention of a prisoner does not deprive him of fundamental rights.


A prisoner can invoke the writ of habeas corpus to protect his other inherent rights.


Administration of prison justice demands the right to fair treatment and judicial remedy.


Court stressed the need for prison reforms and improvement of prison conditions.


By summing up, it can be said that prison systems are an integral part of every society. It is an undisputed fact that the condition of prison systems is not very impressive and is being often regarded to be inhuman and filthy. Several reports around the world indicate that the environs of prisons suffer from a plethora of snugs and lacunae. Despite this, prisons exist and will continue to exist until and unless another effective alternative is devised. Till then the society and government have to join hands and work in unison to redress, alleviate the plight of prison released individuals.

Therefore, it is for the government to undertake certain initiatives concerning the prison released individuals. Also, the kith, kin and society have to imbue themselves with the feelings of compassion, warmth for such individuals. It has been mentioned in the 

Mollshree Pareek is a 3rd year law student from Himachal Pradesh National Law University

[1]Trudy Bourgeois, The Greatest Gift — To: You and I, From: Nelson Mandela (June 1, 2020, 3:31 pm),

[2]Craig Haney University of California, The Psychological Impact of Incarceration: Implications for Post-Prison Adjustment (June 1, 2020, 3:45 pm),

[3]Post Incarceration Syndrome: Can This Affect Drug Addiction? (June 2, 2020, 5:00 pm)

[4](1977) 4 SCC 44.

[5]Charles Koch Foundation, Life After Prison (June 2, 2020, 5:30 pm)

[6]Dr. Banamali Barik, Rehabilitation of released prisoners in India through after- care programmes and services: an analysis (June 4, 2020, 8:00 pm)

[7]AIR 1974 (SC 2092).

[8]AIR 1978 (SC 1675).

[9]AIR 2001 (SCC 437).

[10]AIR 1979 (SC 1377).

IMPORTANT – Opinions expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of IJOSLCA.


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