Approach to prisons and its inmates cannot be the same during colonial period and in an independent country. Colonial rulers used prisons as dungeons of torture and where people who refused to submit to their tyranny were holed up. But in an independent country, despite the need for confinement of the offenders, a prison is no longer a torture centre and a means of suppressing people; it is a correction centre and a centre for education and skill training as well as ideological remoulding of the offenders so that they can re-establish themselves in society as worthy citizens.
How prison mates should be treated? Should they be thrown in jails just to rot and come out as hardened criminals or efforts should be made to turn them into law abiding citizens?Again, the difference in the attitudes of the alien rulers and state managers of an independent country towards prisoners cannot but be fundamentally different. Prison mates – be they under-trial or found guilty – are human beings and should therefore be treated in a humane manner.
These differences in the attitudes towards prison mates determine the nature of facilities for them in terms of food and healthcare services, and how they will be treated by wardens. The colonial rulers, completely unconcerned about the health and wellbeing of the inmates, allocated a small amount of bread and a few grams of molasses for their breakfast. This has been going on for over 200 years, until Sunday when the Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan launched a new breakfast menu, keeping the health and nutrition of the inmates in mind.
This new provision for prison mates brought an end to one of the colonial legacies that we despise and disown. This has been done as part of a series of changes being implemented in accordance with the directives of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Prison mates are now treated in a truly humane manner, provided with healthy food, trained for skill development and allowed to talk with their near and dear ones over the telephone.
Bangladesh is an independent country; its prisons and prison administration should be reformed further to serve the purpose of an independent country.