Offering the prisoners a fresh chance at life, the district jail in Indore, Madhya Pradesh has decided to do away with the dingy, dark cells and the overpowering sense of despair; by opening its doors for the families of the prisoners to cohabit with them. Breaking the age-old stereotype, this open prison named Devi Ahilyabai Open Colony allots a two-room home to each prisoner in the jail campus, where he can live with his family and also step outside the premises for work during daytime. “Presently, 10 prison inmates have been selected to avail this facility which was officially launched on September 3,” shares Mr Brajesh Makhwan, Assistant Jail Superintendent of Indore Jail, while speaking with The Logical Indian.
Incidentally, Indore Jail is one of the four open jails recently started in Madhya Pradesh. The decision is in accordance to Madhya Pradesh Jail Department’s initiative to start five new open jails in the state as a part of the rehabilitation programme for life convicts. The initiative was launched following the Supreme Court guidelines for improving the rehabilitation opportunities for life convicts.
The prisoners are elated with this decision
In 1996, Bhupendra Singh was arrested with the charge of murdering a youth in a fit of rage. Over the next two decades, he has lived out his life imprisonment sentence in a number of prisons, until he was transferred to Indore Jail, where now he has been selected as one of the beneficiaries to enjoy the sweet taste of freedom.
“I still have to spend some more time in prison. But since I have come to this open jail, I feel I have been released. I regret what I did and now I want to live a normal life,” Singh was quoted sharing with PTI-Bhasha. Singh along with his wife, Seema and their two children now resides in one of the quarters of Devi Ahilyabai Open Colony. The kids will soon start attending a local school, while Singh is planning to run a tea and snack shack, with assistance from the prison officials, reported The Hindustan Times.
In Indore jail itself there are 9 more like Singh who has been chosen for this programme after a meticulous scrutiny process at the Bhopal prison headquarters. “The prison inmates who have maintained a clean disciplinarian record in their jail term and have only one or two years left of their sentence are eligible for this scheme. They are also entitled to parole release,” explains Mr Makhwan. “So far, 8 prison inmates have already moved in with their families. We are expecting the other two to join within another ten days,” he adds.
The jail also secures employment for the convicts
“When the prisoners are finally released, they face a lot of hassles to secure a decent livelihood, mainly because society is not ready to accept them with open arms. That is why the Madhya Pradesh government has put forward this noble initiative of open jails, starting with Hoshangabad prison in 2010, followed by Satna, Indore and Sagar jails. At Indore, we have constructed ten 1 BHK houses, complete with electricity, proper kitchen, gas cylinders and other facilities, where prisoners can stay happy with their families till their sentence expires,” elaborates Mr Brajesh Makhwan.
“With the help of NGOs, we also help these prisoners to get secure employment in the mainstream society, according to their individual skills. This enables them to earn for running the family. Two prison inmates have been appointed as drivers in a travel agency and we have approached a factory to recruit another two as labourers. One of the prisoners has planned to start a kiosk for selling tea, snacks and jalebis in and around the jail premises,” he narrates.