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National policy for rehabilitation of freed prisoners mooted

Special Correspondent
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3-day national conference concludes at APCA

K.V. Gagandeep, Inspector-General of Police (Prisons), Karnataka, presenting the K.L.N. Reddy Memorial Award to V.S. Raja, DIG (Prisons), Karnataka, at a conference in Vellore on Thursday. R. Venkata Rao, Vice-Chancellor, National Law School of India University (second from left), and M.R. Ahmed, Director, APCA (second from right), are in the picture.— Photo: D.Gopalakrishnan
K.V. Gagandeep, Inspector-General of Police (Prisons), Karnataka, presenting the K.L.N. Reddy Memorial Award to V.S. Raja, DIG (Prisons), Karnataka, at a conference in Vellore on Thursday. R. Venkata Rao, Vice-Chancellor, National Law School of India University (second from left), and M.R. Ahmed, Director, APCA (second from right), are in the picture.— Photo: D.Gopalakrishnan

Formulation of a national policy on rehabilitation and reintegration of freed prisoners was mooted at a three-day national conference here.

The conference was sponsored by the Bureau of Police Research & Development (BPRD) and organised by Academy of Prisons and Correctional Administration (APCA).

Outlining the features of the draft national policy finalised at the conference, M.Z. Khan, Member, Advisory Committee on Prison Reforms, BPRD, said the should emphasise on special education to prisoners with the focus on functional literacy and legal literacy. Creating partnerships with NGOs for equipping prisoners with technical and other skills and preparing them for release and psycho-social rehabilitation service which would give them the confidence of going back to their family and leading a normal life were also important, he said.

Mr. Khan said the proposed policy should focus on the need for giving to the prisoner at the time of release, the accumulated wages earned by him / her by working in the prison industries, and his / her share of the Prisoners’ Welfare Fund. Community-based organisations should be involved in the rehabilitation and reintegration of released prisoners. Some of the other measures could be arranging for self-employment for the released prisoners with the help of financial institutions and a provision of old age pension or food grains under the Annapurna scheme for prisoners above the age of 60. The Office of the Inspector General of Police (Prisons) should have a cell to take care of the rehabilitation of prisoners and each prison should have a prisoners’ welfare officer to implement rehabilitation measures. Provisions in the jail manual should be amended accordingly, Mr. Khan stressed.

R. Venkata Rao, Vice-Chancellor, National Law School of India University, Bangalore, said a prison should provide therapeutic care to prisoners in respect of his problems. Just as a patient is given after-care after discharge from hospital, after-care should be given to the freed prisoners at their homes.

“Do not look at prisoners as sinners. They are prisoners of circumstances. Don’t look upon a prisoner as a problem, but as one who has a problem which needs to be addressed,” he said.

K.V. Gagandeep, Additional Director General of Police and Inspector General of Police (Prisons), Karnataka, and Member, Board of Management of APCA, who presided, said the participants have the onerous responsibility of ensuring that the knowledge they acquired during the conference percolated down to the lowest level in the prisons where they were working.

Mr. Gagamdeep presented the K.L.N. Reddy Memorial Award 2012 to V.S. Raja, Deputy Inspector General of Police (Prisons), Bangalore. The award is given every year to a prison officer who has made a praiseworthy contribution in the fields of penology, criminology or correctional services. Mr. Raja was selected in recognition of the contribution made by him to the development of a correctional services system in Karnataka.

Mr. Raja wanted the Centre to establish an Indian Prisons and Correctional Service, similar to the Indian Police Service, as that would go a long way in improving correctional services in the country.

M.R. Ahmed, Director, APCA, welcomed the gathering. Mr. Ahmed and Mr. Venkata Rao signed a Memorandum of Understanding for collaboration between the two institutions in imparting legal literacy to prison officers.

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