Its commendable the steps taken by the Tamil Nadu Government for the reformation, rehabilitation of prisoners, while being in and out of prisons. The administration of prisons is accorded utmost priority by Government. Concerted efforts are taken to improve the all-round welfare measures of prisoners and basic infrastructure facilities. While strengthening the safety and security of Prisons, administrative changes are being made in Prisons. The establishment of Prisoners’ Adalat in the Prisons of this State is the first of its kind in the country. The principles of correctional administration are imbibed by Prison Department so as to provide for reformation and rehabilitation in the system.

Some of the measures are, Yoga and meditation, in order to transform the lives of prisoners’ yoga and meditation classes, counselling are conducted regularly by various NGO’S in all the prisons. Education, the prisoners are provided with elementary education through qualified Secondary Grade Teachers in the Prison School. Non-Formal adult education is also imparted to the illiterate Prisoners so that they can read and write. Higher Education is imparted by distance education programme conducted by various Universities. Certified computer training course is imparted to the Prisoners by NGO’s.

In every prison there is one library with books of moral and educative value for the use of prisoners. Books are also borrowed from the District Library on loan basis. A prisoner may also receive books during interview or by post subject to censorship and they may keep 3 books at a time. Tamil and English newspapers and magazines are supplied to inculcate reading habit among the prisoners. All newspapers and magazines are subject to censorship too. All prisoners are permitted to purchase at their own cost any of the newspaper or magazine of their choice, subject to certain restrictions imposed from time to time by the Government.

The Human Rights of prisoners are taken care by providing better living conditions with sufficient accommodation, ventilation, food facilities, potable drinking water, better diet, medical and sanitation facilities, interview and communication facilities, entertainment, free legal aid etc., The staff are also provided with sufficient training in Human Rights so as to alter their attitude towards the prisoners. It is imperative to say, the prisoner who commits prison offences, enlisted in the prison rules will be given the prescribed prison punishment. The superintendent may impose minor or major punishment as classified in the prison rules including prosecution depending upon the gravity of the offence.

According to the latest statistics from the National crime records Bureau, Tamil Nadu jails, when compared to prisons in other states, had the highest number of beneficiaries in getting financial assistance and rehabilitation besides getting legal assistance. Prison inmates in Tamil Nadu get the second highest salary in the country among state prisons for the work they do in the jails.

“If people get sick, we take them to the hospital and give them the right medicine to get better. If people’s behaviour is sick, we bring them to the prison, but we forget the medicines”. Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

“The Prison Smart Programme, transforms the lives of people working in or incarcerated within the criminal justice system. This programme teaches skills that reduce stress, heal trauma and provides practical knowledge of how to handle negative emotions in order to live to one’s highest potential and contribute to society in a positive way. The impact of this programme is that, it is active over 45 countries and continues to grow. In India, over 100 prisons have implemented the programme. More than 500000 prison inmates have been transformed through these programmes”.

“Benefits of the Prison smart programme, is improved immunity and physical well-being. Reduced depression and anxiety. More respectful relationships between prisoners and prison staff. Normalized sleep patterns. Freedom from traumatic scars of the past. Better mutual understanding among prisoners. Removal of tendency to seek revenge as well as feelings of guilt. Reduced crime in society”.

Kiran Bedi, in her book about her time running Tihar Jail, called “Ït’s Always Possible” a former senior police official turned anticorruption crusader, wrote of unspeakably girm conditions there. She went on to account in her book, during the monsoon, the contents of the clogged sewers would flow back into the barracks and the stench and filth became internal”. The change that she brought out later is still spoken about. After her posting in Puducherry Lt. Governor, she came out with a seven-point action plan including training staff on best practices and providing education to the prisoners of central prison, to make prisons a place for rehabilitation and reform for crime prevention.

The latest news, being 5 petrol bunks to be manned by prisoners inaugurated in Tamil Nadu. 5 fuel retail outlets would be operated by prison inmates at various locations were inaugurated by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Palanisami through video-conferencing on 22nd February, 2019. Set-up at a cost of Rs. 10 crores by Indian Oil Corporation, the outlets were located in Puzhal, Vellore, Palayamkottai, Pudukottai and Coimbatore. The Prisons Department and the Indian Oil Corporation Limited would be setting up fuel retail outlets at six more places across the State.

Indian Oil would be investing an additional Rs. 10 Crores for the six bunks at Puzhal (on Ambattur Road), Salem, Tiruchirappalli (Airport Road), Tiruchirappalli (Gandhi Market), Madurai and Coimbatore (Bharathiar Road). The outlet would have state-of-the-art facilities including adequate storage for petrol, diesel, space for storing lubricants and electronic dispensing units among others. Automation facilities would also be set up in the outlets besides provision for Prison Bazaar to sell goods made by the prisoners.

With this initiative, Indian Oil gives an opportunity to prison inmates to become skilled workers. They can also learn aspects of safety in handling inflammable products, learn modern technology and would get an incentive of Rs.100 per day for working as customer attendants. The oil marketing company was keen on replicating this model in other states with co-operation from respective state governments and prison authorities.This is a commendable effort of Indian Oil Corporation Limited to have thought of rehabilitation of prisoners, for their well-being post prison days.