Skilled jailbirds strike it rich in Delhi and Karnataka

Wage behind bars

The Central prisons at Parappana Agrahara in Bengaluru.

Prison is not a great prospect but jailbirds in Delhi and Karnataka have the edge when it comes to wage.

Inmates engaged in labour in Karnataka and Delhi are among the highest paid in the country, according to Prison Statistics India 2017.

Prisoners are paid a nominal wage based on their skill sets. The national average is Rs 97.53 per day for the skilled, Rs 82.74 for semi-skilled and Rs 74.44 for the unskilled. However, Delhi and Karnataka paid much more. For skilled prisoners, the highest wages were in Delhi at Rs 361 per day, followed by Karnataka (Rs 225) and Puducherry (Rs 180).

Delhi topped the list for semi-skilled labourers, too, with Rs 328 per day followed by Karnataka at Rs 200 and Puducherry at Rs 160. When it comes to unskilled labourers, Delhi paid the highest wage at Rs 297 a day. Himachal Pradesh (Rs 210) pipped Karnataka (Rs 175).

The produce made by the inmates fetched a revenue of Rs 279.84 crore in 2017, up from Rs 201.89 crore in 2015, Rs 151.86 crore in 2014 and Rs 128.24 crore in 2013.

Telangana topped the list with Rs 59.92 crore followed by Tamil Nadu (Rs 56.83 crore), Maharashtra (Rs 30.50 crore) and Kerala (Rs 29,38 crore).

While Karnataka pays the one of the highest wages, it has reported a decline in its revenue as 2017 recorded only sales of Rs 2.27 crore. The state jails had sold products worth Rs 3.41 crore made by inmates in 2015 compared to Rs 2.97 crore in 2014.

The value of goods produced per inmate was the highest in Telangana (Rs 1.08 lakh) followed by Chandigarh (Rs 41,075) and Tamil Nadu (Rs 40,686).

A senior prison official said these kind of work not only provides a corrective approach to inmates' psyche but also goes a long way in developing a responsive and respectful attitude in them towards society.

The prisoners develop self-confidence and self-esteem. These activities also lead them towards earning a honourable livelihood after their release from the prison, he said.

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