The Dhaka Central Jail authorities are gearing up their activities to turn the jail into a correction centre so that prisoners could overcome their dark past and return to normal life after serving jail terms.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked the authorities to turn the jails into correction centres while the inaugurating the newly constructed Dhaka Central Jail in Keraniganj recently and directed them to devise ways so that the prisoners could be turned into normal citizens like others changing their criminal mindsets.
Nesarul Alam, Senior Jailer of Dhaka Central Jail told the Daily Observer on Monday that Inspector General of Prisons Brigadier General Syed Iftekhar Uddin ordered him to make ways for skill development of jail inmates, which will help reduce their inclination to criminal tendencies dramatically.
"We are working to turn the jail into correction centres," Alam said.
"Prisons should not be places for confining prisoners. Instead, these should be centres of correction for the criminals," he said.
Some vested interest groups are active to breach discipline of Dhaka Central Jail administration before the jail is shifted to Keraniganj, intelligences sources said. At least 8 suspected war criminals, 200 militants and 14 high risk outlaws are now in the Dhaka Central Jail.
The Nazimuddin Road Central Jail will be shifted to the Keraniganj after Ramadan. The staff and equipment from the jail in Old Dhaka will be transferred to new Dhaka Central Jail in phases but the prisoners will be moved within a day, sources said.
Jailor of Dhaka Central Jail briefed the media, "We have around 8,000 prisoners now. The women will be sent to Kashimpur Jail and the men will be moved to Keraniganj."
Preferring anonymity, a high official of the central jail told this correspondent Monday that they have put strict surveillance system before shifting the inmates after receiving the information from the intelligence agencies.
"We have taken all the precautionary measures and enhanced vigilance and supervision in the prison cells and outside the jail compound as well so that any attempt to anarchy could be foiled instantly before shifting," he noted.
He further said that the detainees have been asked to follow the jail codes strictly and additional forces have also been deployed in and around the central jail area.
The Dhaka Central Jail authorities have introduced skill development, self- employment training and meditation programme for inmates.
We support re-integration of the prisoners back into society by equipping them with the knowledge, self-confidence and support they require to make a go for it once they leave the prison. We know that it is vital that the support continues for the prisoners once they are transferred or released, he said.
Correction training and offender employment pathways give prisoners the best possible chance to equip them to gain sustainable employment on their release.
The 67 jails in the country hold more than 85,000 inmates. Research shows that participation in education and employment can significantly reduce the risk of prisoners' re-engagement in criminal activities following release from prison.
Many prisoners lack numeracy skills and qualifications and work experience to gain and sustain employment post-release. The foundation programme build the necessary skills required to complete rehabilitation, reintegration or employment training programmes.
The ruling party has asked the jail authorities to develop skill building facilities in prisons. It has asked the concerned department to suggest skill development programmes to initiate in prisons and also to train inmates.
Dhaka Central Jail authorities set up CCTV cameras on the premises to keep a close eye on inmates for prevention of illegal drug peddling in the central jail.
"Our traditional counselling method to reform prisoners was not fruitful. Many of the prisoners simply re-enter the crime world and end up back in jail adding to the prison population," a high official of the central jail told this correspondent."So we are now trying this meditation programme to help our prisoners," he said.
Dhaka Central Jail authorities said they provide inmates sufficient space to sleep, enough food and medicine. Adequate accommodation for all inmates in Dhaka Central Jail could be arranged. The jail code, however, says the toilets must be cleaned daily and there should always be adequate supply of water there.