When fitness, mental agility of inmates is key objective

Another step towards jail reforms | Gymnasium, libraries to be set up in all 14 jails of the state

Bhanu P Lohumi

To keep prisoners physically fit and mentally agile, gymnasium and libraries will be set up in all jails in the state. 

The Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (SJVNL) has agreed to establish libraries in all 14 jails of Himachal under their social corporate responsibility initiative and committed Rs 5 lakh. To start with, libraries would be set up in 12 jails, where the number of inmates is more, said Director General (Prisons and Correctional Services) Somesh Goyal.

“Books are man’s best friend particularly when they are in a lonely environment like prisons. With the setting up of libraries with motivational books and autobiographies, mostly in Hindi language, inmates will have well-stocked material to keep them occupied,” he said.

Above 85 per cent of the total inmates lodged in Himachal jails are less than matriculate, while 3 per cent are graduates and 2 per cent post-graduates. At present, there are 2,450 inmates in the state, of which 2/3 are undertrials.

In another initiative, gymnasium facility would be provided to prisoners, which is aimed at breaking the monotony that makes them lethargic and lazy. This facility has already been provided to inmates at Nahan and Kanda jails. The move has evoked overwhelming response from prisoners, who are now able to utilise their free time in constructive and positive activities, Goyal said.

Earlier also, a lot of activities were introduced for inmates, including “Har Hath Ko Kaam” — job for every hand. An inmate of Hamirpur jail, undergoing life imprisonment, had become the first female open prisoner in the country to get a job outside the prison premises. She was recruited as a peon at an educational institute.

“We encourage prisoners to improve their qualification and learning levels through open schools and universities, so that they can get better jobs after completing the sentence. Prisons are reformatories and transformation centres and our endeavour is to ensure their rehabilitation after release,” said Somesh Goyal, Director General (Prisons and Correctional Services)

Other initiatives taken 

  • Women prisoners are working for bakeries and handloom units and taking up knitting, stitching and embroidery works
  • Several retail outlets selling goods and eatables manufactured by prisoners are being run by inmates at Shimla, Nahan, Dharamsala and Solan jails
  • Inmates are trained by professionals of Radisson Hotel in manufacturing bakery products such as cookies, biscuits, pizzas, burgers and doughnuts, which are in great demand
  • The Prisons Department also started production of white branded shirts and khadi clothing
  • Besides wielding, carpentry and masonry work, prisoners are engaged in manufacturing of handicrafts and artefacts
  • A sewing school has been set up at Kanda Jail
  • The Prisoners’ Band has been performing on numerous occasions
  • Prisoners are running a book café at Takka Bench in the heart of Shimla
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