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Representative Image

After prison bars, red-tape fetters released convicts yearning for new life

With a hope to rebuild a new life, the 53-year-old released convict spent his savings of Rs 12,000 from the wage that he earned by working in the prison industry to buy vessels and utensils to set up a tiffin stall.

CHENNAI: After languishing behind bars for nearly 18 years, Kuppusamy (name changed) finally came out of the Central Prison in Coimbatore in 2018, being one of the 1,600-odd life and long-term convicts who were granted premature release under government’s amnesty programme to mark late chief minister MG Ramachandran’s birth centenary.

With a hope to rebuild a new life, the 53-year-old released convict spent his savings of Rs 12,000 from the wage that he earned by working in the prison industry to buy vessels and utensils to set up a tiffin stall.

“When I was released in 2018, I submitted a petition requesting financial support to put up a tiffin stall in my village. Hoping that I will be supported financially to put up the stall, I bought vessels from the savings of Rs 12,000 from my wage that I earned during my imprisonment. Till date, there is no communication from the department in this regard,” he said.

Failing to get the support from the Discharged Prisoners Aid Society (DPAS) and the Prison Department, hundreds of released prisoners like him, who are eager to turn a new leaf, are struggling to support their families.

For instance, only 275 of the 1,627 prisoners released under the amnesty scheme during the AIADMK regime have received the aid, said a source in the department. The department had disbursed financial aid to the tune of Rs 42.56 lakh to ex-convicts between January 2018 and March 2019.

After languishing behind bars for more than 13 years, a 33 years-old convict stepped out of the Central Prison for Men in Vellore in October this year.

But he has no place to go as his family disowned him. “With no steady income and regular job, I am struggling to find a job to feed myself,” said Manivel (name changed) wondering whether the authorities would look into his plea.

Sources in the Prison Department admitted petitions from hundreds of such released prisoners, seeking financial assistance to restart their lives, have been gathering dust for years now.

Except in Vellore, DPAS in other districts are remaining defunct, as the authorities concerned are not showing interest in carrying out the rehabilitation programmes. “It is nothing but red-tapism,” said an official, preferring anonymity.

Admitting delay in disbursing the financial aid, a senior Prison official said that they were looking into the pending applications to disburse the financial aid or at least help arrange loans.

“Last year, we disbursed financial aid to the tune of Rs 38 lakh to 87 persons. Now, we have prepared the applications of 200 out of the 316 prisoners who were released in the last few months under the premature release scheme to mark late chief minister CN Annadurai’s 113rd birth anniversary. We will soon disburse the aid to them,” assured the officer.

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