“A journey of transformation”
Roopantara is the first of its kind process where in life convicts who are due to be released will be prepared for their transition from behind the prison walls to the world outside, the world beyond. It is perhaps, the first initiative of its kind in the history of incarceration not just in Karnataka but in entire country. We hope that Roopantara eventually becomes a reality in the life of every convict across the country.
An exclusive camp for life convicts enlisted for the 26th january, 2017 premature release conducted by department of prisons, government of karnataka
ROOPANTARA – THE JOURNEY
12th November, 2016 the Roopantara program was launched simultaneously across 7 Central Prisons in Karnataka, with the Home Minister inaugrating it at the Central Prison, Bengaluru.
The program began with the individual interviews of all convicts enlisted for the premature release. Convicts were profiled across all Central Prisons, ensuring that every convict had an opportunity to speak about themselves, their families and their needs.
Individual profiling enabled assessment of their resources, skills, aspirations and fears of life outside prisons.
Individual cases requiring special assistance (mental health care & family support) identified well in advance
Convicts response after the individual interviews
“I am surprised that somebody came to give me so much time to talk. You did not just fill forms. You took interest to understand me as a person.”
“We never thought that there would be anybody who will bother about us. We are forgotten by the world outside, some of us even by our own family members. We cannot believe we are being heard.”
PHYSICAL PREPARATION FOR RELEASE
Every convict set to be released went through a process of medical examination and has been handed over a file that will enable them to have a record of their medical history.
Convicts enlisted for the premature release were provided with opportunities to participate in various physical exercises by trained physical trainers (wherever available) and individuals, organizations and institutions with expertise in yoga, meditation etc.
MENTAL & EMOTIONAL PREPARATION FOR RELEASE
The Peacemakers team conducted workshops with the inmates to express their deepest fears, emotions, memories that continue to trouble them and challenges that loom large in their minds.
Using different mediums they were able to look at multiple approaches to issues they are likely to face after their release and multiple ways of dealing with them.
Convicts response after the workshops
“Participating in these activities made me feel like a huge burden is off my shoulders. I just feel so relieved at the end of it all.”
“So far we were afraid of the challenges we foresaw in each of our lives. Now we know that there are different ways to face it and
“The workshop has given me hope. I feel more hopeful about my life now.”
SOCIAL PREPARATION FOR RELEASE
The Department of Prisons has elicited the participation of several Government Departments, Universities and Civil Society Organisations to interact with the inmates. Various Government Departments have come forward and oriented the inmates on the schemes that the prisoners can avail of across various sectors such as agriculture, animal husbandry, vocational training institutes, banking sector, etc.
Convicts response to the interventions:
“This program has given us a lot of information on different opportunities available to us. We would never have been able to know so much on our own, especially after stepping out after all these years.”
“If not for this program we would not have any information of the different kinds of help and support we can get from different departments.”
Efforts made to trace families and counsel them to address their fears and needs and to receive inmates back into their homes.
Families were invited for a session at each of the Central Prisons. The prison authorities interacted with the family members and facilitated the family to speak of the challenges they faced in the absence of the inmates.
Families were then given an orientation to the life of the inmates within the four walls of the prison, the prisoners constant guilt of having caused such suffering to their families, helplessness to reach out and be there for their families and their desire to live the rest of their lives serving their near and dear ones, making up for what was lost over all these years.
Family members’ response after the workshops
“I am surprised that somebody thought of a program like this for prisoners! I am a prisoners’ child and I know what this really means and the difference it will make to all of us.”
“I am amazed that somebody thought of calling the family members and hearing their side of the story.”
“All I thought of is – my father is coming back home at last! But now I know I need to prepare myself and my family to help him in the days to come. Thank you for telling us their side of the story.”