Rehabilitating Prisoners

Rehabilitating prisoners: NGO wants to guide convicts to the right path

When members of an NGO set out to rehabilitate prisoners in Sindh’s most populated jail in 2007, prison officials told them that no matter what they do the prisoners will keep coming back.

Seven years later, hardly any prisoner, who has completed the programme offered by the Society for the Advancement of Health, Education and the Environment (Sahee), ever returned to the Karachi Central Jail. The rehabilitation programme, that was changing the lives of prisoners, was the centre of discussion at The Second Floor (T2F) on Friday.

“The course we offer is Criminon, a four-step rehabilitation programme,” said Sahee founder Saleem Aziz Khan. “The philosophy behind [the programme] is to promote self-respect and esteem among the inmates.”

Criminon means no crime, said Khan, while showing a PowerPoint presentation. “It is an effective criminal rehabilitation module. The programme caters to the literate prison population, which is 25 per cent.

Kidnappers, murderers and even members of banned outfits have taken this course and benefited, he claimed. The courses are offered through books. These are the communication courses, learning how to learn, the way to happiness, and social and anti-social personality course.

Speaking on the occasion, trainer Dr Bheem said that after completing these courses, people’s personalities have changed tremendously. “When a person takes up the first course, he is in a terrible condition and mentally unstable,” he said. “The course helps to bring the person come out of his past and into his present, and helps with his communication skills.”

Bheem shared how he had seen a prisoner, who had murdered many people and had been deserted by his wife, was seen breaking down and crying

Dr Humera, another member of Sahee, read out success stories of the prisoners. She spoke about an inmate who said that he had turned down to become a member of a terrorist group as he was being taught by the course how to lead a simple, contented life. The organisation wants to initiate this programme for female prisoners, said Khan. However, they don’t have a female trainer as yet for the purpose.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 23rd, 2014.