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There are 86 jails across the state of Odisha, with the majority of the inmates being under trial. Unlike the convicts serving rigorous imprisonment, who are engaged in various work within the prison with pay, the undertrials cannot be engaged in any kind of work in the prison. These undertrials have a lot of free time, which could have been spent in a constructive way. Such idle minds have a higher potential of creating disturbances within the jail. Constructive engagements of these undertrials will not only elevate their mood and help in lesser disturbances within the prison but also give them the skills and hope to rebuild their lives outside prison. After being released from jail, they can use these skills to earn a living and lead better lives This will also help to bring down the crime rates in Odisha.

The Amulya Jeevan Foundation team visited two prisons, viz. Choudwar in Cuttack and Jharpada in Bhubaneswar in August 2022. We had a couple of meetings with Shri. Manoj Chhabra, DG, Prisons & Correctional Services and the superintendent of both jails.

Following were the suggestions for constructive engagement of the inmates

  • Most inmates liked reading books, however, the current library rooms were gloomy and unattractive for current or prospective book readers.
  • There was no recreation space where inmates could engage in activities like painting, dancing, singing, theater, etc.
  • A community FM radio station within the prisons could be used to promote positive thinking, creativity, mood elevation and relaxation.
  • he inmates can be imparted relevant, short-term skills like video editing, photo editing, etc. which may help them in generating livelihood after their release from prison.

After the suggestions were made, The Amulya Jeevan Foundation proposed to adopt a prison at Jharpada, Bhubaneswar, and the plea was accepted by the Directorate of Prisons & Correctional Services, Odisha. AJF began its intervention under the one-year pilot project which started in Sep'22 and will last up to Sep'23.

Interventions at the prison at Jharpada, Bhubaneswar

A centre housing a library cum skill development room, community FM radio station and recreation room was set up. The centre has been named 'Mukt Vihangam'.

1. Library room cum skill development room- The library room was renovated to create positive spaces for reading and skill development sessions for the inmates. Bookshelves were constructed and around 1900 books were mobilized for the library room. Inmates were trained in numbering the books and arranging them on the bookshelves. Inmates were also demonstrated regarding maintaining various registers like issuing of the books, record of available books etc. Four desktops have been set up in the same room. The idea is to train inmates in skills like video editing, photoshop etc.

2. Community FM Radio Station- A community FM radio station next to the library room was set up. This radio station will be run by the inmates. Training sessions have been organized for the identified interested inmates and prison authorities. These trainings will help the trainees in operating, monitoring and maintaining the radio station. These are being conducted by RJ Komal Jyoti and Mr. Subrat Swain, Technical head of Radio Chokolate 104 FM (one of the leading FM channels of Odisha) since Nov'22. The community radio station at the prison has been named 'Azaad Vani'. The inmates have started operating the morning shows from 7 am to 3 pm. In the coming months, Azaad Vani will be functional from 7 am to 5 pm.

3. Recreation centre- A recreation centre has been set up next to the library room. 20 inmates have been engaged in theatre sessions, which are being conducted by Mr. CVL Srinivasan, Reader of the Utkal University of Culture, Bhubaneswar and Mr. Choudhury Jayaprakash Das, Faculty of Utkal University of Culture, Bhubaneswar. Art & Craft sessions are being conducted by Mr. Chintamani Biswal. 15 inmates for theater and another 15 interested in art are attending these sessions regularly.

4. Wall Art- Professional artists were engaged in the beautification of the inside and outside walls of the library, community radio station and recreation centre. This enhanced the aesthetic and pleasant look of the.

Inauguration of the centre- 'Mukt Vihangam'

On 10th December, every year, we celebrate International Day of Human Rights. Coincidentally Prison Formation Day is also observed on the same day in all the prisons across Odisha. The thought is to convey the idea of prisons as a 'place of reform' instead of 'place of punishment', imprisonment and confinement'. This year, the day was even more special as it marked the inauguration of 'Mukt Vihangam'. AJF and many other organizations engaged in various collaborative activities at the prison were invited to the event by the Directorate of Prisons & Correctional Services. Each one of them were appreciated for the work done at the prison. The team members at AJF were appreciated and felicitated with memento for the work. AJF was encouraged to continue engaging inmates with many more activities like pottery, music, dance etc in the coming days.

Post the inauguration of the centre, a small interview with Shri. Manoj Chhabra was conducted by team Azaad Vani. Following this, the guests were addressed by Shri. Manoj Chhabra, where he emphasized on 'positive environment and thinking' among the prison inmates. The prison inmates presented a beautiful play 'Bandira Parivartan' practiced during the theater sessions conducted by AJF. This received a standing ovation by the audiences and special appreciation by the guests.

AJF continues with the training sessions on 'Radio Jockeying' and Art classes at the Jharpada prison. Soon other classes on video editing, photoshop and pottery will be commencing.

The Amulya Jeevan Foundation is an organisation that lends a helping hand to the most vulnerable section of the society. Upholding the ideology that every life is precious, AJF reaches out to people in need and distress and supports them. From providing free meals to the hungry, quality education to the poor, healthcare to the needy, livelihood to the downtrodden and shelter to the deserted, AJF tries to bring a qualitative change in the lives of people in distress. AJF has a dedicated team of volunteers who reach out to people far and wide with helping hands and a smile on their faces.