Rehabilitation of inmates : Adding that missing part into their lives

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Words : Kamanthi Wickramasinghe
Photos : Rushiru Tharanga

Once a person is convicted of a crime, he enters the prison premises with labels and tags. Even after going through an extensive rehabilitation process, society sees them as criminals for the rest of their lives. Last month, Sri Lanka witnessed how a death row inmate graduated with a Masters degree and that is one example of this rehabilitation process. As such, thanks to the rehabilitation programme closely monitored by the Commissioner General of Prisons, Chandana Ekanayake, many inmates are now looking at life differently.
“The ultimate vision of any prison official is to rehabilitate prisoners and reintegrate them back into society,” Ekanayake said in an interview with Lanka Woman. “We go by three Cs– Custody, Care and Correction. Under custody we have walls, metal bars and cells to keep them away from society. When someone is under custody, we should care for him because he or she too is a human being. There are international guidelines called Mandela Rules and the entire world has come into one agreement in terms of caring for a prisoner.” When a person comes in he’s sent to the doctor and screened for any diseases. Putting them to a doctor is already a part of the rehabilitation process. “We all need water, shelter, food, bedding and sanitary facilities,” he added. “All these are components of the care step. During the welfare process, the first lecture is given by the rehabilitation officer.
This includes how to communicate with home and how to behave inside the prison premises. While doing work they get to learn. In the education process those who can’t write are taught how to write. On Sundays we have a special Dhamma school and we have a successful pass rate. Some have even passed the Dharmacharya exam and with that qualification they can even teach at Dhamma schools.”

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