“I want to lead a life of a totally changed man. I also want to provide good education to my wife and two children.”
– Altaf Hussain, after attending our eight-day Prison SMART program
Altaf, a native of Ambedkar Nagar in Uttar Pradesh used to be a member of the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba. He is currently facing life imprisonment for being involved in the Ayodhya Blasts in 2001. He recounts how yoga, meditation and positive interactions during the course proved to be a boon for him. Now he has begun learning different languages and feels that the course has filled him with positivity and optimism.
Altaf is one of 58,000 inmates whose lives we have touched through our Prison SMART Programs in Tihar Jail. Our journey started off with a small program in 1999. Our efforts over the years have helped many prisoners to undergo intense transformation and to shun the vicious cycle of crime.
For most criminals, what triggers crime is merely a moment of anger or weakness when they lose control. Due to our efforts, many such people have become free of past anger, regret and guilt. For others, who get forced into crime due to their circumstances, our holistic interventions have helped them to apply themselves to live meaningful lives.
Our consistent work for over the past decade has left a mark on the jail authorities as well. A testimony to this is that in jail no.1, 4 and 5 of Tihar, separate wards have been designated as The Art of Living wards so that the inmates may do their kriya (meditation) without any disturbance.
How does the journey look so far?
Over 58,000 prisoners
have undergone the Prison SMART program since 1999
Programs for jail authorities
conducted bi-annually and almost 130 members have undergone our introductory program
A 30 member team
currently working with the prison authorities to conduct programs
have undertaken our YLTP program to become teachers themselves
Multiple vocational training initiatives
to provide prisoners with skills to earn a livelihood
How did we work?
Our interventions are at two levels for this program:
Conducting Prison SMART programs to aid inmates to come out of the regressive mindset of crime and guilt
Channelize their energies and creativity by putting them through vocational trainings. This also helps them to find a source of earning once they are released.
What did we learn?
We have been running similar programs in other jails across the country. However, nowhere has the transformation and the results been so good as in Tihar. This success is primarily because of the combined efforts of our teams, the jail authorities and the inmates.
How can you contribute?
The Prison SMART program is a highly intense program that involves providing consistent care, attention and mentoring to the participants. With the right kind of support, our existing programs across the country can be scaled up.