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Prisoner’s Hand Prints

By Debasree S, Editor

Amidst all the fun and the revelry that is taking place in Dubai in the name of its swanky shopping festival – there are some unique expressions of emotion and independence from the under-privileged that are worth a mention.

The Heritage Village in Shindagha and the Global Village are some of the venues that have been chosen to display prisoner’s handicrafts – a noble reminder of the hard work that is going on inside Dubai’s jails to reform convicts and return them to the mainstream of society.

Confined within their cells, the prisoners might be far removed from the entertainment and the festivities but what is heart-warming is the effort on the part of the Jail authorities to give prisoners their place under the sun.

“What better place to showcase our commitment to reform and integrate convicts to the mainstream of society than the DSF” asks Captain Adel Guma Al Hallawi, Director of the Supplies and Services Department of the Dubai Department of Punitive and Reformative Establishment. Dubai’s trademark shopping festival has thrown up selling and buying opportunities, but for the prisoners themselves, every time that their item sells, they get a share of the profits.

“We do not want the community to forget the convicts, instead we want them to use their time in the Jail to learn something useful that will give them a livelihood after they are released,” says Capt. Adel while talking exclusively to

A huge wooden barbeque stand greets you as soon as you enter the hall followed by rows of Oudh holders and traditional Arabic wooden caskets that could hold anything from jewellery to clothes. Then there are children’s playthings, paintings, household items from satin slippers to pillows all made by male and female prisoners inside Dubai’s Jails.

“This is the best evidence of our work to reform criminals and prove that they are ready to return to the community as responsible and dutiful individuals,” Capt. Adel said.

The prisoners undergo different forms of training from carpentry to painting. If any prisoner is exceptionally talented we ask him to train the others. This helps in fostering friendship and giving expression to their thoughts and ideas.”

When prisoners teach others a special trade, he gets an additional allowance. If a prisoner is found adept at memorizing the Holy Quran, his sentence is commuted. Academics are encouraged and they pursue studies through long-distance classes. Prisoners can also undertake the International Computer Driving License programme after IT training. “We have a responsibility in reforming the prisoners, not just segregating them,” Capt Adel explains.

A part of the proceeds of the sale of these items at the DSF will benefit the prisoners themselves, the rest will help in buying raw materials for future handicraft workshops. The items are reasonably priced like a velvet baby chair would cost Dhs. 70 and a Mandoos (wooden casket) ranging from Dhs. 250-500 depending on the size.

Source :
Posting : 03/02/2008

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