Prison authorities in southern India are planning to introduce inmates to poetry, literature and music as part of a novel reform plan, a minister said Tuesday. Poets, playwrights, authors and musicians will participate in readings and live performances, as well as share their experiences with inmates, said Kerala state home minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.”Jails should not be used as torture grounds. They might have committed crimes but we should help them to reform themselves,” Balakrishnan told AFP.
Now this is what I call a creative prison system. Now I believe that, barring the actions of hard, cynical, and even unethical prison guards, administrators and staff, prisons are in general, a hell (or “torture grounds”, if you will) of the inmates own making. I believe it is the cruelty and violence of the inmates themselves that makes prison so undesirable, not so much any external factors.
However in many cases some inmates would actually benefit from being exposed to some positive influences. Not every inmate is a hardened, cold blooded, dyed-in-the-wool criminal. Some of them were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, had the wrong friends, or grew up in the wrong environment. These kinds of people could be rehabilitated, if given the right conditions. Heck, you might even end up doing something cool, like these inmates at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center in Cebu City, Philipines.
Now I’m not naive enough to believe that there will be wholesale reform as a result, I think I understand the reasons why crime exists, and I believe it should be obvious to anyone that rehabilitation is much too complex an issue to be solved by implementing any one solution. But if even one inmate learns to better themselves as a result, it will still all be worth it.
07/29/2007 – UPDATE!:
Apparently the dancing inmates of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center have gained fame on YouTube! The link also provides some background information about how the program started and the intent behind it.
Video – Inmates in CPDRC, Philipines do “Radio Ga Ga” – [YouTube.com]
Video – Inmates in CPDRC, Philipines do “Sister Act” – [YouTube.com]
Video – Inmates in CPDRC, Philipines do “Thriller” – [MySpace.com]
Indian state mulls a dose of culture to reform prisoners – [Yahoo/AFP]
Dancing jailbirds in Philippines become YouTube hit – [Yahoo/AFP]