Inmates breath easy in open jail

“It is really a challenge to look after the inmates and my own family simultaneously. Since this job entails round-the-clock commitment, I am here running around and enjoying my time being with them,” says Anitha with a glimmer of hope among the most detestable group in society.

Even though the open air jail has a capacity to accommodate 80 inmates, it currently houses 28 and four among them are on parole.  Apart from giving free air for the inmates, the prison also nurtures their skills and help them come back to lead a normal life.  Besides agriculture, horticulture and dairying, the inmates also undertake fisheries related work.

“We mainly cultivate maize, ragi, toor dal, country beans etc. We have also mango, coconut and cashew plantation on our campus spread across 13.25 acres.  This year, we did carrot cultivation and got double profit. Almost all year we get Rs six to Rs seven lakh return,” said the Superintendent.

Reinforcing the motto of the open jail, she said the aim is to rehabilitate the inmates back to society. “Our primary aim is to bring back all inmates back to mainstream life and help them fetch the deserving respect from the society.  For this we need concerted efforts,” said Anitha.

As her pet projects, she has proposed to begin vermi composting and floriculture on a large scale. “We have already done the necessary ground work and it will begin soon.  Accessibility to innumerable farmers and international airports around give scope for reaping much dividend out of these projects,” she added.

Low-risk prisoners

Convicts get transferred to the open jail from the regular jails across the State only after getting them categorised as low-risk persons. Though meant for white-collar criminals, inmates convicted of serious crimes such as murder and rape get transferred to open prisons towards the end of their sentences if assessed as low-risk.

To give a new lease of life to the inmates, the Open Air Prison impart meditation and literacy class.  “We want to undertake a few spiritual classes also so that they feel value in life,” said the superintendent.

The positive impact of the open jail on its inmates is amply evident in Siddaraju from Mandya and Chandranayaka from Arasikare. They have now started to send money to their families from whatever little they earn here. “We are delighted to have a place like this open jail.  We feel a whiff of fresh air here and it enthuses us to go back to our native places soon,” said Chandranayaka.

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