Devanand and Vijay were convicted murderers, serving life sentences at Nagpur Central Prison. But then, they decided to pursue a Bachelor of Arts (BA) course while being imprisoned. This decision marked a vital turning point in the former lifers’ jail term duration. What followed was a cascade of events that led to a considerable reduction in their prison terms and an unprecedented wave of educational motivation among prisoners.
Education Paves the Way for Sentence Remission
In an impressive and inspiring development, a total of 145 inmates across nine prisons in Maharashtra were granted special remission between 2019 and June 2023. The unique criterion for this remission was not merely good behavior, but successful completion of various academic programs, be it SSC/HSC, undergraduate or postgraduate courses. What’s more, the education-driven remission covers a broad spectrum. It includes all stages of education, right from high school to doctoral programs.
“Education provides inmates with an opportunity for a better life after their release from prison and gives them a chance at rehabilitation and reintegration into society,” said Amitabh Gupta, Additional DGP (Prisons and Correctional Services).
The Maharashtra Prisons’ Education Initiative
Inside the prisons of Maharashtra, there lie dedicated study centers, crowded with inmates poised over textbooks. Ten such educational hubs exist within the prison system, enabling undertrials and convicts alike to pursue academic knowledge. Notably, however, only the convicts have the incentive of a reduced sentence upon successful course completion.
According to department data, Nagpur Central Jail saw the highest number of inmates, 61 to be precise, receiving remission from 2019 to June 2023.
Hoping for a Better Future
The benefits of this initiative are twofold. On the one hand, it offers prisoners a productive way to spend their time, fostering purpose, and hope. On the other hand, it equips them with necessary skills and qualifications, priming them for better job prospects upon release.
In extraordinary cases, prisoners serving life sentences like Devanand and Vijay receive a 90-day special remission for each completed course, thereby facilitating their early release. Upon earning their degrees, both inmates witnessed the duration of their life sentences diminishing not once, but twice.
All in all, the embrace of education within the Maharashtra prison system is a testament to the timeless power of learning. More importantly, it signifies a notable shift in the penal system’s approach towards rehabilitation and reintegration.
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