A glimpse into the life at Visakhapatnam Central Jail

Life behind bars

Central Jail, Visakhapatnam
Visakhapatnam Central Prison

Inside the large walls and locked gates of Visakhapatnam Central Jail, exists an environment to improve the lives of criminals, and therefore show them a way to live. S. Rahul, Superintendent of the Central Prison shares that side of the story with Jaya Siva Murty.

SP S.Rahul

A feeling of trepidation crosses the heart, as one stops at the gates of the large complex that houses concrete buildings and greenery. Equipped with live wire fences, watchtowers and thorough security measures, this silent abode is the Visakhapatnam Central Prison. A facility that takes charge of the custody, care, and correction, of criminals in the region. Playing the key role of ensuring a safe society, by keeping the criminals away, an average of 1000 prisoners are here on any day. This is where the bane of the society are sent away to, but then, what is life behind the bars really like?

From the pick-pocket to the murderer; from the seemingly normal to the mentally challenged; handling a range of inmates is the job description for the officers at the Central Prison. But this isn’t all. The task before them is much greater, as the facility looks after not only their custody but their care and correction as well.

The routine

Addressing the requisite of providing a healthy mind and a healthy body, each day starts off with yoga at 6 AM, which is followed by breakfast. Inmates are employed at the factories, or the gardens, to keep them occupied. Prisoners go to courts, while others get absorbed in one of the many tasks handed to them. A dairy farm, with ninety cows and organic cultivation of fresh vegetables, are a few of the important jobs they take up.

The evenings are relaxed, and there is a digital library which also has audiobooks for the illiterate. Games, such as carroms and chess, and televisions with five channels can be viewed. Outdoor sports like volleyball are allowed as well. Mealtime consists of a balanced diet. Ragi malt is provided for the tribal prisoners along with two cups of tea per day.

With the belief that the ties within a family should never be broken, those serving life sentences have the provision of family members visiting them in prison. An eligibility register is maintained to list names of people allowed to visit. The hospital facility is provided for those suffering from physical, or mental health problems.

Many NGOs also visit the prison on Sundays and impart value-based sessions for the convicts who are interested. All festivals are celebrated here, and special dramas and events are planned by the prisoners.

In the words of the SP

“There is plenty of talent here, some good singers, we even have artists whose paintings or craftwork are displayed in the office”, shares the SP.

But the threat that the inmates would be back to their old ways once they’re out always looms high. “The lure of making easy money pushes many in the wrong direction. Not only does this segment lack a direction on how to make money in the right way but they also lack an understanding of how to spend it. Attracted towards addictions, like liquor and gambling, this segment is bound to squander on these, once they are released. And the chance of them committing a crime yet again is rather high”, shares the SP. He also talks about the worrying increase in trade of ganja, which is the cause for the highest number of inmates. College students and jobless young offenders are targets and often attracted towards easy money.

Visakhapatnam Central Prison

The facility

Operational for one and a half year now, this initiative is the second of its kind in India, after Rajahmundry. Through this, prisoners are provided 45-day-long training programmes which aim at enabling these convicts with a way on how to lead a normal life. From training in welding, plumbing, weaving, tailoring, jute bag making, etc., prisoners are taught skill sets and then shown a direction in setting up their own enterprise or taking up a job. To bring this facility to the prisoners, the Visakhapatnam Central Jail has tied up with Skill Development Institute (under PMKVY programme). Having trained and certified 450 prisoners till date, when released from prison, they are also provided loans to set up small enterprises, that range from tea shops to photo studios.

Visakhapatnam Central PrisonThe staff of 200 employees and 15 officers work round the clock in shifts to ensure seamless operations at the Visakhapatnam Central Jail. Quiet and imposing on the outside, a bustle of activity is on at all times inside those large walls. The police are constantly on rounds to ensure that all work goes smoothly. The hospital and its staff cater to the health conditions of the inmates. The work initiatives also motivate inmates to make the best use of their time, and some of them have also gone out to set up their own enterprises. Creating a monitoring system that checks their progress is on the cards.

A shop right outside the premises also sells products created by the inmates, money that would be added to their earnings or used for their benefits. From bedsheets to cloth bags and doormats, rugs or darris and yoga mats are all sold here.

Visakhapatnam Central PrisonThe Visakhapatnam Central Jail is surely the place where one does not want to be. But as we step out of this looming premises, breathing the sweet air of freedom, one feels good with all the initiatives. Those inside the bars are having their second chance at leading a better life. And we hope that they make better choices.

Addressing the requisite of providing a healthy mind and a healthy body, each day starts off with yoga at 6 AM, which is followed by breakfast. Inmates are employed at the factories, or the gardens, to keep them occupied. Prisoners go to courts, while others get absorbed in one of the many tasks handed to them. A dairy farm, with ninety cows and organic cultivation of fresh vegetables, are a few of the important jobs they take up.

The evenings are relaxed, and there is a digital library which also has audiobooks for the illiterate. Games, such as carroms and chess, and televisions with five channels can be viewed. Outdoor sports like volleyball are allowed as well. Mealtime consists of a balanced diet. Ragi malt is provided for the tribal prisoners along with two cups of tea per day.

With the belief that the ties within a family should never be broken, those serving life sentences have the provision of family members visiting them in prison. An eligibility register is maintained to list names of people allowed to visit. The hospital facility is provided for those suffering from physical, or mental health problems.

Many NGOs also visit the prison on Sundays and impart value-based sessions for the convicts who are interested. All festivals are celebrated here, and special dramas and events are planned by the prisoners.

“There is plenty of talent here, some good singers, we even have artists whose paintings or craftwork are displayed in the office”, shares the SP.

But the threat that the inmates would be back to their old ways once they’re out always looms high. “The lure of making easy money pushes many in the wrong direction. Not only does this segment lack a direction on how to make money in the right way but they also lack an understanding on how to spend it. Attracted towards addictions, like liquor and gambling, this segment is bound to squander on these, once they are released. And the chance of them committing a crime yet again is rather high”, shares the SP. He also talks about the worrying increase in trade of ganja, which is the cause for the highest number of inmates. College students and jobless young offenders are targets and often attracted towards easy money.

Visakhapatnam Central PrisonOperational for one and a half year now, this initiative is the second of its kind in India, after Rajahmundry. Through this, prisoners are provided 45-day-long training programmes which aim at enabling these convicts with a way on how to lead a normal life. From training in welding, plumbing, weaving, tailoring, jute bag making, etc., prisoners are taught skill sets and then shown a direction in setting up their own enterprise or taking up a job. To bring this facility to the prisoners, the Visakhapatnam Central Jail has tied up with Skill Development Institute (under PMKVY programme). Having trained and certified 450 prisoners till date, when released from prison, they are also provided loans to set up small enterprises, that range from tea shops to photo studios.

Visakhapatnam Central PrisonThe staff of 200 employees and 15 officers work round the clock in shifts to ensure seamless operations at the Visakhapatnam Central Jail. Quiet and imposing on the outside, a bustle of activity is on at all times inside those large walls. The police are constantly on rounds to ensure that all work goes smoothly. The hospital and its staff cater to the health conditions of the inmates. The work initiatives also motivate inmates to make the best use of their time, and some of them have also gone out to set up their own enterprises. Creating a monitoring system that checks their progress is on the cards.

A shop right outside the premises also sells products created by the inmates, money that would be added to their earnings or used for their benefits. From bedsheets to cloth bags and doormats, rugs or darris and yoga mats are all sold here.

Visakhapatnam Central PrisonThe Visakhapatnam Central Jail is surely the place where one does not want to be. But as we step out of this looming premises, breathing the sweet air of freedom, one feels good with all the initiatives. Those inside the bars are having their second chance at leading a better life. And we hope that they make better choices.

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