Equipping inmates with life skills, the Poojappura Central Jail way

Far from being mere detention centres, the state’s jails have transformed themselves into something more. 

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Far from being mere detention centres, the state’s jails have transformed themselves into something more. The Poojappura Central Prison, which is scripting history with a host of self-employment training programmes aimed at the rehabilitation of prisoners, is one such instance. 
Last week, 22 inmates of the prison and three former prisoners secured licence for driving four and two wheelers. Majority of them was youngsters except for one who was 53-years-old. 

“Driving is one of the most-preferred vocational training programmes among the inmates. We selected 25 from a list of 125 persons who had evinced interest. Fund constraints forced us to limit the number to 25,” said Sumanth V S,  Prison Welfare Officer.The Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) extended its full support to the initiative. The final test was conducted at the SICA ground near the jail.  The inmates were imparted driving lessons with the help of the `1.40 lakh government fund allocated under the Prisoners’ Welfare Scheme. 

Besides, training in making paper bags, computer basics, beautician course and screen printing were provided, with the inmates clubbed into batches of around 25 each.The coaching in screen printing and beautician courses were conducted with technical assistance of the Central Polytechnic, Vattiyoorkavu, and Women’s Polytechnic, Kaimanam, respectively. The courses were designed as part of the continuing education programme (CEP) of the institutions. 

Sumanth said the Central Jail had submitted a list of novel training programmes, including a  certificate course in travel and tourism, to the government this fiscal. Other than the post-release rehabilitation, vocational training programmes keep the prisoners engaged during their incarceration. “Prisoners who join such courses are found to be calm and composed. One of them has approached us seeking advice to set up a paper bag manufacturing unit in his hometown,” he said.

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