Pakistan has one of the highest numbers of prison inmates in the world behind bars, in a limited number of prisons across the country. Due to the corrupt and dysfunctional institution of the state, prisons are filled to the brim with prisoners awaiting decisions of their fate from courts. The conditions of these prisons are noteworthy; they lack medical facilities, necessities, trained staff, and a lack of ability to abide by rules enacted in the constitution. These factors, paired with a lack of accountability, serves as a breeding ground for police torture.In early colonial phases, prisons were treated as torture cells where those who dared to go against the tyrannical laws were detained unlawfully and subjected to ill-treatment to set an example. They were essentially meant for freedom fighters to curb threats to the crown; therefore, prisons were characterized by revenge schemes, systematic discrimination, and violence. When Pakistan inherited this prison system after partition, attempts were made to introduce amends. The first Prison Reform program was introduced in the 1950s under Colonel Salamat Ullah. A committee was formed to draw up recommendations. These recommendations received official approval, but owing to a lack of resources and capacity to execute them, they were never implemented. Prisons in Pakistan continue to present a picture of one of the most neglected and filthy areas of society. There is only one staff training institute in the entire state; the use of violence and bribery by wardens and prison superintendents is unaccounted. Pages of history are stained with atrocities committed by the police; in 2011 two brothers were lynched to death in the presence of police officers in Sialkot. In 2018, a minor boy was assaulted in a private cell near Lahore by a police officer while another officer recorded the incident on his mobile phone. In 2019, Salahuddin, a mentally challenged prisoner, was tortured to death while in custody in a cell in Rahim Yar Khan. According to the data curated by Human Rights Commission Pakistan, from January 2, 2013, to May 6, 2018, there were 641 cases reported of police torture. 163 of these cases led to custodial deaths. Among these, 7 were females, and 4 were minors.Several laws exist to prevent civilians from being tortured in police custody. Article 14(2) of the Constitution provides that “No person shall be subjected to torture for the purpose of extracting evidence.” Therefore, declaring all forms of custodial torture unconstitutional. Article 10 of the constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest/detention. The Pakistan Penal Code also prohibits any hurt subjected to the detainees for purposes of extracting a confession. Section 176 of the Criminal Procedure Code requires magisterial inquiry in cases of custodial deaths. The law protects civilians, but it is seldom abided. Even women, children, and the elderly are not spared from sadistic clutches of confinement. Outdated laws and lengthy procedures have plagued our criminal justice system since its inception, leading to long detentions, unlawful detentions, and delayed trials. International Committee of the Red Cross, in collaboration with the National Counter-Terrorism Agency and CODE (a civil society organization), conducted a study in 2017-2018 and reported that the prison population was 84,287 when its authorized capacity was only 53,744. This is nearly 33’000 more prisoners than prisons can facilitate, the bitterness of this situation only dawns on us when we visualize this number as actual prisoners cramped up in cells with scarce resources. The military continues to detain scores of people on the charges of suspicion, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Balochistan and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) further increase this number. Moreover, the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance (JJSO) continues to be blatantly disregarded in the country; as a result, children are arrested every day for petty offenses and detained for several months.Overpopulation naturally leads to spread of disease, according to reports 5’200 inmates are suffering from serious medical conditions, 35% among these have contracted hepatitis while 425 have been diagnosed with HIV. These patients are forced to endure pain several months before receiving medical attention; many of them die due to a lack of proper medication and treatments. Unfortunately, none of these conditions contribute to Pakistan’s policy of retributive justice. From the moment these inmates step in prisons, they are stripped of their status as a human being. They are subjected to worst forms of torture, exposed to scorching heat, biting cold, and torture at the hands of police officers. In October 2019, a bill was presented by Senator Sherry Rehman before the parliament by the name “he Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention and Punishment) Act 2019”. The bill, for the first time in Pakistan’s constitutional history, aims to make police torture a criminal offense. One can only hope its provisions are upheld. The writer is a junior year law student at LUMS. She enjoys books, coffee and cocomo.