THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a novel initiative, the government has decided to utilise the skills of prisoners for construction of houses under the government's LIFE Mission to provide houses to all the homeless. To begin with, service of inmates of Cheemeni open prison in Kasargod district will be engaged in the construction of a house at Karinthalam in Kasargod. The government is of the view that the initiative would also help in reforming the prisoners by involving them in social causes.
Prison department sources said that director- general of prisons R. Sreelekha had earlier proposed to the government that the services of inmates of all prisons could be used for construction of houses under various housing schemes of the government. But it is yet to take a decision owing to the security issues involved.
It was considering a request by Karinthalam grama panchayat that the services of prisoners of the Cheemeni open prison are being extended for completing the construction of a partially finished house for the family of Kunjambu, who recently died of cancer.
The inmates of open prisons are selected from among convicts of other prisons on the basis of good behaviour. Hence the security risk of them misusing the opportunity to work outside is minimum. Even then police security would be made while engaging them for working outside the prison. At present, there are about 200 inmates in Cheemeni open prison, of whom about a dozen are involved in construction activities on the prison premises. Many of them were working as masons before they landed in jail. The construction of a house for Kunjambu was initiated under the EMS housing scheme in 2010. But it remains incomplete and hence it was included in the LIFE Mission. The estimated cost for the completion is around Rs. 5 lakh....