Jail Mahotsav Case Study
Sri Aurobindo Society organised Jail Mahotsav in which the inmates were given the opportunity to express themselves with their capabilities gained through reformational activities, through various mediums.
The inmates through the help of Ms Alokananda Roy and Ms Krithiga showcased a lively dance performance that was appreciated and admired by dignitaries and spectators alike.
The creativities of the inmates were exposed through elegant paintings in bags, portraits, handicraft products that were exhibited in the public events.
In India the objectives behind imprisonment have moved from incarceration, deterrence to correction where reformation and rehabilitation occupies a pivotal role. The idea of prison reform entails turning a ‘deviant’ individual into a ‘normal’ law-abiding citizen. It indicates a shift in the practice of imprisonment, entailing a move away from addressing the ‘physical body’ to addressing the ‘soul’ of a person. Ensuring that an imprisoned person could return to society to lead a law–abiding and self–reliant life is a universal idea in reform programme.
Prisons are expected to undertake human engineering. The aim is to influence and modify perceptions, attitudes and behaviour of those who are locked inside those highly guarded walls.
Introducing reformation activities in Pondicherry Prison has helped prisoners in an inexplicable manner where people who haven’t spoken in years came out and shared their stories just because they were given the liberty and were provided a space for emotional expression
A key and essential approach in effective prison reform is to help inmates recognize and put on their new, better identity as spiritual beings and it can help rid of negative, self-destructive behaviour while connecting them to something bigger than their circumstances. People can begin to turn their lives around if they are helped to gain the true vision of themselves, which we all earnestly desire to live. The primary role of a spiritual and deeper inclination in correction is not to change a prisoner’s behaviour or reduce recidivism, but rather to buffer and prevent the further loss of dignity and humanity of those who are placed in the inherently dehumanizing conditions of prison.
- CASE STUDIES
- Ravideep Singh Chahar, IG (Prisons), speaking to media persons spoke about series of initiatives being undertaken to create a ‘model prison’ in the Union Territory. He briefed about the many firsts being undertaken in the Puducherry like launching a jail anthem, setting up a human library and CCTV cameras in the jail premises and building modern visitor rooms, equipped with intercoms & facilities like ‘talking through glasses.’
- Puducherry Hon’ble Lt Governor Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan also graced the occasion as the chief guest and launched many initiatives like female prisoner’s yard, CCTV control room & many others.
- Prem, one of the inmates had a major breakdown as he met his family after a long time and got a chance to eat with them and spend some time with his daughter, son, mother and wife. He also presented jail anthem in front of all the chief guests and other members of the society which again left him feeling overwhelmed. He expressed his gratitude towards Sri Aurobindo Society and God.
- Ambrose felt equally happy about the whole program. He was emotionally overwhelmed during the entire program as he saw his two sons after 20 years. Having explored the artist within him inside the jail, he also managed to draw a portrait of honourable LG and presented it to her. Along with this, he also drew a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi, live on the stage in front of everyone.
- Other inmates were equally involved and participated in the Mahotsav through their art and dance performances. Some of them were involved in selling the products that they had created inside the jail. Others were involved in managing the event and taking care of the food arrangements. In all, each inmate willingly participated in the program and expressed their gratitude at the end for bringing their families to them and being given a chance to spend quality time with them.