The shirts are being produced at the Poojappura Central Prison, as part of a programme to equip prisoners with skills and trades that could make it easier for them to adjust to a life outside prison after their release. The inmates also get paid a small amount, which they say can be saved and sent back home.
"We are moving from concept of jail to corrective centres. They learn skills, earn money and the common man can really profit from the output. It helps the inmates return to normal life. Our DGP bought our first shirt and gave a brilliant feedback," said Sam Thankkayan, superintendent of the Poojappura Prison.
The initial idea had been to stitch only a handful of shirts to mark the inauguration of the new stitching unit in prison premises. But the quality of the shirts produced by the inmates had been excellent. This had prompted the prison authorities to turn it into a sustainable project in itself.
The initial samples have been stitched by 17 trained inmates, with seven hours of daily work. The prisoners receive a daily wage of Rs 30 a day for unskilled work and Rs 53 a day for skilled tasks. They also have additional monetary incentives for surpassing their task targets.
(Shirts made by the inmates of the Poojappura Prison.)
"Inquiries have started pouring in. The prison staff themselves have started booking for their demand... There is a lot of positive response from inmates also. The shirts have been priced at Rs 266 and Rs 333," said C Mohanan, stores in-charge of the Poojappura Prison.
The shirts will go on sale from August at special counters set up by jail authorities, first at the prison, which is to be extended to the markets as production increases.
The prison already has another successful vocational programme for inmates. Since 2011, prisoners have produced chappatis and chicken curry, which have been a huge hit in the open market, making a profit of over Rs 1 crore annually.
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