The state government has announced the imminent formation of a Prison Development Board to enhance the number of prison industries in the state.
The Board, whose formation was recommended by the National Human Rights Commission, officially takes a long-view to the rehabilitation of prisoners, towards imparting better skill-building and education to inmates, will prevent them from returning to a life of crime.
“The key to prisoner reformation is to give them critical skills which will help them avoid a return to a life of crime,” explained Basavaraj Bommai, the Minister for Home Affairs, while visiting the Parappana Agrahara Central Prison on Monday.
During a tour of one of the workshops, the minister suggested that the products being made by prisoners be sold online.
For years, prisoners were offered training in gardening, baking, soap-making, garment manufacture to gear them for a future in cottage industries. On Monday, however, the government announced that it is also introducing training in information technology (specifically data-entry), goods and capital services and the hospitality industry.
Another element is a newly opened prison radio station, which Megharikh N S, the Additional Director General of Police, Prisons, described as being the second such prison facility in India - after Tihar jail in New Delhi.
“We feel that people should always have the chance to absolve themselves of their bad deeds of the past and be optimistic for their future life,” the minister added.
The comment was pertinent considering that the state released 141 prisoners (including one woman) on Monday. The mean number of years served in captivity by these former inmates amounted to 14 years, many of whom had been incarcerated for violent crimes committed in fits of anger.
Megharikh clarified that the prison system did not have a policy of releasing repeat offender prisoners with a propensity for violence. However, this did not mean that released prisoners would be allowed to slip back into a life of crime, Bommai explained.
“Most may have a paranoia that they will continue to come under police surveillance. They are right to think so,” he said.
Many of the released inmates said they never hoped to see the inside of a prison again.