The Telangana State Prisons Department is considered one of the most progressive in the country and has set a stellar example of how prisons should work.
According to a report in The Hindu, the Bureau of Police Research and Development is set to publish a booklet detailing the best practices of the Prisons Department in Telangana, as a model for the rest of the country.
Here are some of the reasons why the work done by the department has been praised!
1. The Vidyadanam Scheme
According to a report by The Indian Express, Telangana’s prisons, are giving inmates the opportunity to reform through various schemes, and one of them is the “Vidyadanam Scheme,” which aims to make them literate.
The scheme was started by VK Singh, the Director General of Prisons in Telangana. It allows inmates who are illiterate to be trained by those who are literate. Additionally, there is a system of taking monthly examinations.
“Vidyadanam comes under our Mahaparivartan programme. It is arguably one of the best programmes we offer in the prisons. Since 2014, over 1, 10,000 prisoners have been made literate,” explains A Narasimha, IGP, Prisons.
Those who are literate also have the opportunity to study via correspondence and obtain degrees. Education, therefore, becomes a vehicle for reformation.
In the prisons active across the state, one will notice that the infrastructure resembles a typical living space instead of a prison.
“It isn’t like a prison, it’s almost like a resort,” says Mr Narasimha. “We give them all the basic facilities they need to lead a life of reformation and rehabilitation.”
Simple provisions, such as adequate ventilation and maintaining the proper ratio for restrooms allows the Telangana prisons to maintain a basic level of hygiene.
3. Employment Opportunities
No matter how prisoners conduct themselves within the confines of jail, many return to crime upon leaving prison, sometimes of their own accord, but also because they do not know of any other way.
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To provide a livelihood to prisoners, and give them a second chance at life, the department has started ‘My Nation’ outlets in villages, which sell products made in the prisons. The department has also established an Ayurvedic village where prisoners assist in ayurvedic procedures for patients.
“We have also found employment for prisoners at petrol pumps. The revenue we generate goes into funding many of our schemes for inmates,” says Mr Narasimha.
Prisoners are given the opportunity to start their own ventures, fund the expenses of their families, and pay for themselves, all through loans offered by the department.
“We have given loans for education of their children, for marriages, and much more,” explains Mr Narasimha.
He hopes that through this provision, there are slimmer chances of a released prisoner reverting to a life of crime.
“You will find the most disciplined prisoners in Telangana prisons,” asserts Mr Narasimha, proudly.
He attributes this to the schedule which is followed, and the various ways in which the department attempts to inculcate discipline into the lives of the inmates.
“We start every morning with the national anthem. We believe that inmates should feel a sense of pride for the nation. They also practice meditation every day,” he adds.
Have all these innovative practices showed any results?
Statistics show that prison deaths have gone down from 56 in 2014 to just 17 in 2017, while revenues generated from the prison initiatives amount to almost 13 crores! Literacy rates have gone up, while corruption in prison has reduced. Many inmates have found jobs for themselves, and have been able to provide for their families and children.
However, Mr Narasimha believes the real proof goes beyond the numbers.
“Telangana prisons are proactive, innovative, and logical, and the improvements have happened because of these reasons. We want to become self-sustainable, and increase funds so that we can help more inmates in building a better life for themselves,” he says.