“Objective is to ensure that the convicts don’t revert to crimes. By making them employable, we are only enhancing their confidence’’

Once convicts, now private security guards. The concept of reforming prisoners is acquiring new dimensions in Tamil Nadu with jail authorities making efforts to make inmates literate, skilled and employable. While offering a variety of job-oriented courses through the ‘Centre of Excellence’ established in nine central prisons across the State, the Prison Department is now training convicts in security management aspects.

Many convicts who were released on completion of prison term have been employed by private security agencies and deployed as guards to various firms. Private security service is just one of the many job opportunities being created through vocational courses offered as part of the ongoing prisoners reformation programme, sources in the State prison department said.

In a bid to market the skills of inmates heading for release, the department has created an in-house portal where the details of convicts and their skills would be showcased.

“We are sharing this portal with the Confederation of Indian Industry and other potential employers so that they can choose candidates of their choice and even conduct campus recruitment,” Additional Director-General of Police (Prisons) J. K. Tripathy told The Hindu.

While appealing to the employers not to enter the criminal past of the convicts in service records, the prison department through its Probationary Officers ensured the good conduct of the ex-convicts. “We make a random check on their activities through different sources. At least 200 former prisoners have been employed in the last one year and there has not been a single complaint about their conduct so far,” he said.

One of the ex-convicts employed as a security guard in a reputed private firm recently detected a major pilferage which even led to the recovery of stolen property. “Our objective is to ensure that the convicts don’t revert to crimes. By making them employable, we are only enhancing their confidence. Once they join the mainstream workforce of the society and earn a decent salary, we hope, there will be no looking back,” Mr. Tripathy said.

In all the central prisons, a new scheme has been launched where inmates with a good conduct are rewarded by the Jail Superintendent with a different colour card. The card would enable them to meet the family in an open hall instead of interacting with them in grilled enclosures.