According to popular belief, prisons act as the ideal method to transfer the principle of punishment to the society at large. But the “get tough” approach may not have the necessary data to back it to prove that incarceration, in fact, declines crime rate and reforms criminals into good citizens.
So the question that arises here is — correction or punishment?
When more than 3 lakh people of our population inhabit prisons, it is essential that our country’s jails don’t act as confinement rooms where criminals sit and ponder upon what they did wrong, but serve as a place for them to put their minds into constructive work.
The inmates of Nellore Central Prison have generated Rs 2 crore through their own sweat and blood by engaging in various production activities. More than 200 convicts have been directing their talents toward agriculture, horticulture, dairy farming and sheep rearing.
Speaking to The Logical Indian, Nellore Central Jail Superintendent MR Ravi Kiran, said, “Central prison Vellore has 25 acres of closed prison and 45 acres of semi-open prison. In the closed prison section we have empty enclosures for future expansion which are now being used for agriculture. The jail’s lands are used for cultivating medicinal plants and supplying to Himalaya Drugs. Parts of it are also built as compost land and another part will be converted into a brick industry shortly.”
“The entire project is the brainchild of Deputy Inspector General of Prisons G Jayavardhan to make the prison self-sustained. A dairy unit was started in the premises with 10 buffalos a year back. We had taken a loan of Rs 6 lakh from the head office – Andhra Pradesh prison – for the same. The investment was used to rear cattle and we have repaid the loan back. The strength of our daily cattle has also increased to 25 buffalos and 10 cows. The prison campus also houses 80 odd sheep,” he added.
The milk produced in the open jail dairy farm is sold to the closed jail for the consumption needs of its inmates. A part of the land in the open jail is also used to produce vegetables and any extra produce (the remaining after sale to closed prison) is sold in the open market.
“Around 200 prisoners, out of the 453 prison population, take part in this. The inmates of closed prison are not supposed to work, whereas the ones in simple imprisonment can be put to work only if they so desire. The only mandatory work for them is to maintain their own barracks. We put the other inmates to work,” said Kiran.
There are around 30 open jail prisoners who maintain the dairy and the sheep rearing unit and they get paid for their work.
The Logical Indian community commends the efforts of Nellore Central Jail for encouraging its inmates to take part in constructive production work. Incarceration should be associated with corrective and not retributive punishment.