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### Reform Scheme in Prisons Department: 207 Inmates Granted 90-Day Education Remission

By Vinay Dalvi

Apr 03, 2024 07:58 AM IST

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Over the last five years, 207 individuals convicted and detained in various correctional facilities throughout Maharashtra have reaped the benefits of the prison department’s ‘reform and rehabilitate’ initiative that was initiated in 2019. This program offers inmates a 90-day remission – a reduction in their prison term – if they engage in educational pursuits during their confinement.

MUMBAI: Within the past five years, a total of 207 convicts incarcerated in diverse jails across Maharashtra have availed themselves of the prison department’s ‘reform and rehabilitate’ program, which was launched in 2019. Under this initiative, prisoners receive a 90-day remission – a deduction from their prison sentence – upon undertaking various educational endeavors while in custody.

207 convicts got 90-day education remission under reform scheme of prisons departmentInmates receive a 90-day educational remission under the prison department’s reform scheme

By the end of March, 207 inmates had been granted a 90-day remission upon successful completion of their respective educational courses, predominantly at the graduation level. Additionally, sixteen of these individuals were further rewarded with an extra 90-day remission for completing post-graduation studies. Collaborations with esteemed institutions such as Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University (YCMOU) in Nashik and Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) in Delhi have facilitated the successful completion of Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC), undergraduate, and postgraduate courses by several convicts.

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The remission scheme is exclusively available to convicts serving sentences in 60 prisons across the state. A senior official from the Maharashtra Prisons Department stated, “Through the ‘Reform and Rehabilitate’ initiative, we aim to impart education to prisoners, thereby enhancing their quality of life during incarceration. Post-release, they can leverage their educational qualifications for personal development. Inmates exhibit a preference for subjects like sociology, political science, economics, history, Hindi, and Marathi while pursuing undergraduate and postgraduate studies.”

“We have also introduced a range of vocational courses such as carpentry, tailoring, beauty services, vehicle and cellphone repair to equip them with job opportunities post-release,” the official added.

According to a prison official, a considerable number of inmates express interest in professional courses like Bachelor of Law (LLB) and Master of Business Administration (MBA), albeit encountering challenges in appearing for examinations while in custody. Transporting prisoners to designated examination centers necessitates special permissions from various authorities, including the courts.

Yogesh Desai, Deputy-Inspector General, Maharashtra Prisons, affirmed, “Providing education, particularly vocational training, to willing inmates forms a crucial aspect of Maharashtra Prisons’ efforts to enhance the quality of life for prisoners during their confinement and bolster their employability post-release.” The prisons department has also forged partnerships with several banks to extend financial aid to released inmates, enabling them to establish small businesses following vocational training.

“Under the guidance of Additional General of Police, Maharashtra Prisons Department, Amitabh Gupta, we have established an education section and established study centers within various correctional facilities for the convenience of inmates. These study centers, equipped with essential study materials, are operational in central jails such as Arthur Road in Mumbai, Yerawada in Pune, Kalamb in Kolhapur, Nagpur, Amravati, Taloja in Navi Mumbai, Thane, Paithan near Aurangabad, as well as Nashik and Kalyan jails. Inmates also have access to teachers at these study centers on designated days of the week to address their queries. Additionally, an array of books is available in digital format on computers within prisons as e-books,” Desai elaborated.

The state prison department extends complimentary educational opportunities to convicts serving sentences in nine central prisons, one women’s facility, 28 district jails, and 19 open prisons.

Yakub Memon, who was executed for his involvement in the March 1993 Mumbai serial bombings, pursued Master’s degrees in English literature and political science from Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). Similarly, lawyer Shahid Azmi, who was tragically assassinated in 2010, studied law while in custody, and alleged ISIS recruit Areeb Majeed pursued law studies during his incarceration, even representing himself in court, as per a prison official.

According to prison statistics, in 2021, approximately 40% of the prison population had only completed elementary education, while 24% had attained a Class 10 qualification but discontinued their education before completing graduation.

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