While no criminal would like to be in jail, an ‘open prison’ in Madhya Pradesh is a welcome change for convicts who wish to spend the last leg of their sentence in its homely environ before being set free.
Shanker, Mukesh, Mangilal, Dharmendra and Jitendra are among the prisoners of the open jail in Hoshangabad district who, like normal people, go out for work daily. In the evenings, they return to the prison and after watching TV with their families and taking dinner, they go to bed.
These chores are witnessed everyday in the state’s first open jail, built on 17 acres land in Hoshangabad, where the prisoners long to spend last days of their imprisonment.
“I sell vegetables to earn bread for my family,” open jail prisoner Mukesh Kewat said.
Like Mukesh, other prisoners are also doing different works to eke out a living for their families.
“We all are happy as we are living with our wives and children who are studying in a homely atmosphere while we serve our sentences,” he said.
“Many prisoners want to spend the last days of imprisonment in open jail, but we are the lucky ones to get entry here after scrutiny of our behaviour,” Kewat said.
The jail consists of houses for 25 families built at a cost of Rs 32 crore.
“We are left with 18 prisoners as seven inmates have been released after they served their sentences,” Hoshangabad open jail superintendent Manoj Sahu said.
“The convicts, during the last two years of their imprisonment, are transferred to open jail from other prisons to make them familiar with the environ outside so that after release they don’t face hassles in settling down,” Additional Director General of Prisons, MP, Sushovan Banerjee said.
The convicts whose conduct is found good are kept in the open jail, he said.
“After the success of the Hoshangabad open jail, one more prison similar to it is coming up in Satna district which would be operational next year,” the ADG said.
“We also have plans to set up such open jails in Bhopal, Gwalior, Jabalpur and Ujjain districts. These prisons will have 25 houses,” he added.