It was a heartening sight as over 30 men received their Bachelors degrees from Hyderabad's Dr BR Ambedkar Open University (BRAOU) earlier this week. The graduates? Convicts who are lodged in Warangal Central Prison. Their audience? Around 900 inmates of the very same prison.
These 30 convicts hailing from different backgrounds had been convicted of serious crimes ranging from murder, rape, and burglaries and been serving their sentences. Given their interest and jail authorities' encouragement, many inmates are pursuing studies which they were unable to due to circumstances in the past. And the BRAOU study center in the prison is providing required teaching and materials.
Speaking to TNM, Warangal Central Prison Deputy Superintendent D Kalidasu said that their efforts to change the future of inmates through education is getting good response. “They're all convicted for different crimes. Their interest and constant guidance is leading many to choose studies. Good faculty and material is yielding results,” he said.
The university offers Undergraduate courses like B.A , B.Com and B.Sc with different specialisations.
The Deputy Superintendent further added that all the fresh graduates are between the ages of 30 and 50, and said that they will be provided assistance after their sentence.
The officer observed, "Education will definitely bring about a change in any person, and that is visible here in our inmates. This education programmes will continue as more people are showing interest." Along with higher education, Warangal Central Prison is also training the inmates in various vocational activities.
The prisoners’ convocation was attended by several welfare officers, social workers, and Warangal Mayor Gundala Prakash Rao.
Warangal Central Prison have taken up a programme called Unnati, which is a cognitive behavioural change drive. D Kalidasu said, "We have availed services of psychologists who constantly counsel each inmate. The programme is bringing about changes by addressing inferiority complex and encouraging inmates to choose education for personality development."
"We are seeing changes in repeat offenders; after counseling, there is a reduction in those who come back to prison,” he said.
“We will continue to take up better initiatives that will bring positive changes in the lives of prisoners. We will make sure inmates get employment opportunities once they finish their sentences,” he added.