The State Prison Department is one of the oldest Government Institutions in the State and an integral part of the successful and smooth functioning of the Civil Administration of the Government. Prison is the symbol of the authority of the State Government.
The Prison system in the State was introduced during the British Raj in the 1940’s. Initially, a Lockup attached with the North Police Station, Kohima was set up. The 1st Jail, ‘Kohima Jail’ was opened by the then British Government at ‘Old Jail Hill’, the present site of District Jail Kohima during the post World War-II.
The words Prison and Jail have slightly different meanings; but it is both used indistinctly. According to Oxford dictionary, Prison means a place where confinement takes place awaiting judgment and pronouncement of penalty. Whereas, a jail is where the convicted offender is confined to serve and complete the penalty passed by judges. Broadly speaking, the existence of Prisons in our society is an ancient phenomenon where anti-social elements were kept in a place identified by the rulers to protect the society against crime. Prison was considered as a house of captives where prisoners were kept for retributory and deterrent punishment.
The aim of the society as expressed in its criminal law is to safeguard its own existence to maintain order and to make it possible for all citizens to lead a good life, free from molestation of others. The law enforcement agencies have been given the powers by the society to curtail the freedom of its citizens by taking them into custody in connection to their deviant conduct. Our prison system has been under the close scrutiny of judiciary since long, Prison being an institution primarily for persons remanded to judicial custody or sentenced to undergo jail sentence by the court only. District and Session Judges and the District Magistrate have been given responsibility to monitor on the prisoners management very closely and review it periodically under their jurisdiction, as the members of Board of Visitors prescribed in the Prison manual of state as well as government directives for Prison management.
The Prison Department functions under the Home Department headed by the Home Commissioner as Administrative Head of Department. All correspondences with the Government, central and State are done through the Home Department.
The Department of Prisons is Headed by a senior IPS officer in the rank of Director General of Police (Prison) assisted by various level of functionaries having 11 (eleven) functional Jails covering 10 (ten) Districts in the State with the largest Jail, Central Jail situated at Dimapur, 10 (ten) District Jails (Kohima, Mokokchung, Tuensang, Dimapur, Phek, Peren, Kiphire, Zunheboto, Wokha, and Mon). The Prison Department is a small organization with a total strength of 866 (Eight hundred sixty six) employees. Yet, it is a very sensitive Department as it deals directly with human problems.
With advancement, Prison system has also changed. Today it is an institution where the inmates are given opportunity to reform and also to know how to earn livelihood with the introduction of handicraft, tailoring, tea plantation, gardening, music classes and recreation by giving facilities etc .Chapels are set up within the Jail. Official visitors and various NGOs are welcomed to have interaction and fellowship with the inmates to encourage and enlighten the inmates to become a good citizen and socially valuable.
To achieve a certain effective measures of humanization of Prisons conditions and to put the treatment of offences on a scientific footing as the institution is an integral part of social defense component of the nation. Thereafter, Prison Department endeavor on the Prisoners reformation/rehabilitation by giving them appropriate correctional treatment.