Shillong: As part of its prisons reforms, Meghalaya Prisons Department has taken several steps of which changing the attitudinal behaviour of prison staff toward inmates is one of them.

Flagging off five new UTP vans from the premises of Shillong District Jail on Friday, Inspector General of Prisons (IGP) Mariahom Kharkrang said the vans will be handed over to various District Police and Sub-Divisional Police.

Kharkrang was accompanied by East Khasi Hills Superintendent of Police  S Nongtnger, and other Prisons and Police Officers.

The IG informed that as part of prisons reforms, the first step they needed to take was spelling out the motto of the Prisons Department – ‘Changing Life Through Corrective Steps’.

Initiating skill development of inmates with support from Meghalaya State Skill Development Society (MSSDS), the skills include soap making, tailoring, food processing, weaving, basic computer training and agriculture. The department wants to ensure that they make efforts to provide placement to inmates after they leave the prison system.

Coaching of inmates in various indoor and outdoor sports activities in collaboration with Indian Oil Corporation Limited as part of Phase 3 of the programme titled ‘Parivantan – Prison to Pride’.

Kharkrang also informed that a proposal was sent to the Government to change the nomenclature of Prisons Department to Prisons and Correctional Services and is expecting a notification soon.

Acknowledging that there is overcrowding in the district jail, with a total of 487 inmates, Kharkrang said that decongestion can only happen once the Nongstoiñ District Jail is complete. The department is also working on the master plan for setting up of Central Prison at the newly allotted 25 acres at New Shillong Township.
“The idea of setting up the central jail is to segregate convicts from Undertrial prisoners,” said the IG.

Asked how the idea of skill development, Kharkrang said, “Once the prisoners finish their prison term, there are hardly any employment opportunities for them. We wanted to ensure that they are employed once they’re out.”

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