Prison Statistics India – 2019


The number of prisons in India went up from 1,339 in 2018 to 1,350 in 2019, marking a 1.9 per cent increase in its capacity – notes the report Prison Statistics India – 2019. The number of people lodged in jails also increased to 4,78,600 – a 2.69 per cent rise since 2018.

This report was published by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), an agency under the Ministry of Home Affairs, government of India, in September 2020. It contains data on jail administration in the country for the year 2019, compiled by prison departments across states and union territories for the NCRB.

The 264-page report is divided into 12 chapters: Prisons – Types and Occupancy (Chapter 1); Prisoners – Types and Demography (Chapter 2); Indian Prisoners (Chapter 3); Foreign Prisoners (Chapter 4); Prisoners - Offence wise (Chapter 5); Prisoners - Sentences and Incarceration (Chapter 6); Prisoners - Releases, Transfers and Movements (Chapter 7); Deaths and Illness in Prisons (Chapter 8); Jail Breaks, Escapes & Firing in Prisons (Chapter 9); Rehabilitation and Welfare of Prisoners (Chapter 10); Prisons Staff – Strength and Training (Chapter 11); and Prison - Budget and Infrastructure (Chapter 12).


  1. With 144 jails, Rajasthan reported the highest numbers of prisons within its territory. It was followed by Tamil Nadu (141 jails), Madhya Pradesh (131), Andhra Pradesh (106), Karnataka (104) and Odisha (91). These six states together account for about 53.11 per cent of the total jails in the country.

  2. The overall occupancy level of prisons increased from 117.6 per cent in 2018 to 118.5 per cent in 2019. The highest prison occupancy rate was in Delhi (174.9 per cent) followed by Uttar Pradesh (167.9 per cent) and Uttarakhand (159 per cent). 

  3. The report considers prisons with an occupancy rate of more than 100 per cent as overcrowded. Only 15 states and union territories reported an occupancy rate of less than 100 per cent: Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Goa, Lakshadweep, Manipur, Nagaland, Odisha, Puducherry, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Tripura.

  4. There are only 31 separate jails for women in the country as of 2019. As low as 15 states reported having at least one separate jail for women. The nationwide occupancy rate in jails for women was at 56.1 per cent in 2019. Uttarakhand reported the highest female occupancy rate at 170.1 per cent, followed by Chhattisgarh (136.1 per cent) and Uttar Pradesh (127.3 per cent). 

  5. The report categorises inmates under three types: ‘convicts’ or those found guilty of a crime and serving a sentence; ‘undertrials’, whose cases are currently being tried in court; and ‘detenues’ – “any person held lawfully in custody.” In 2019, the number of convicted, undertrial and detenues prisoners increased by 3.32 per cent, 2.15 per cent and 35.19 per cent respectively.

  6. Out of the total number of undertrials, 74.08 per cent have been in prison for up to a year, 13.35 per cent have been in prison for 1-2 years, 6.79 per cent have been confined for 2-3 years and 4.25 per cent for as long as 3-5 years.

  7. About 43.4 per cent of inmates were aged 18-30 years and 43.3 per cent were 30-50 years. About 13.2 per cent were over 50 years.

  8. India’s budget for prisons for the financial year 2019-20 was Rs. 6,818.1 crores. The actual expenditure during this period was Rs. 5,958.3 crores – 87.39 per cent of the annual budget. Out of this total expenditure, 34.59 per cent was spent on inmates for provisions such as food, medicines, clothing, and vocational or educational training.

  9. In 2019, 41.6 per cent of prisoners had educational qualifications below Class 10 level; 21.5 per cent had studied beyond Class 10 but were not graduates; 6.3 per cent were graduates; 1.7 per cent had postgraduate degrees; and 1.2 per cent held technical diplomas or degrees. About 27.7 per cent of the prisoners had no education. 

  10. The number of deaths in prisons – due to both natural and unnatural causes – decreased from 1,845 in 2018 to 1,775 in 2019. Of the total deaths in 2019, 86.99 per cent occurred due to natural causes and 9.3 per cent were from unnatural causes like suicide, accident, murder by inmates, and assault outside prison. Roughly 3.72 per cent of deaths occurred due to reasons ‘not known yet’.

  11. The number of prisoners of foreign nationality increased by 8.51 per cent to 5,608 prisoners in the year 2019. About 38.7 per cent of them were convicts, 53.1 per cent were undertrials and 0.7 per cent were detenues. At the end of 2019, the largest number of foreign convicts were from Bangladesh (67.7 per cent), followed by Nepal (10.5 per cent) and Myanmar (7.1 per cent). The maximum number of foreign convicts were lodged in the jails of West Bengal.

  12. The report states that there were 1,658 non-governmental organisations working for the welfare of prisoners in 2019, with the aim to provide legal aid, human rights counselling, medical aid and other relevant facilities. 

    Focus and factoids by Kartik A. Chitrakar. 


National Crime Records Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi


National Crime Records Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi 


Sep, 2020