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Intensive Reformation Programme (IRP)
S. K. Dogra, IPS
Additional Director General of Police
Tamil Nadu Prison Department

During the past one year, Tamil Nadu Prison Department has undergone a number of changes and improvements. These improvements have created a platform for more revolutionary changes in the weeks and months to come. The issue of government orders relating to the following infra-structure facilities will soon help to take the prisons to a new level of reformation:

  • A Prison Bazar which will convert the prisons into manufactories.
  • Re-shaping of the hierarchical pyramid of the Prison Department to create more posts of higher rank: this will not only enhance promotion prospects, but will also improve communication channels by providing a broader layer of middle rank.
  • Sanction of one more bakery at Puzhal to manufacture and market breads and cookies.
  • Extension of canteen facility to prison staff.
  • Extension of Own Your House (OYH) scheme to prison staff.

These orders issued by the government boost the benefits of the other professional steps taken by us as a Department.

New Focus on Reformation: Amidst this scenario, Tamil Nadu Prison Department has launched a new program with far-reaching potential. This program has been named Intensive Reformation Program or IRP. The main features of this program are discussed here.

Principle 1:

The inmate and his/her guide: IRP works on the basic principle that the warder, who is the ground-level worker is the best agent for change of the moral life of the inmate. The warder must be trained to combine duties of security and reformation in a seamless manner. The two duties are inter-connected and should not be separated.

The warders must be systematically trained in the IRP task. This is the most difficult and the most challenging part of the entire work and demands direct participation of senior officers.

A trained warder, when he takes up the reformation of an inmate, becomes his or her Guide. The Inmate-Guide relationship is of crucial importance to the success of the Program and must be the focus of all types of training given to the Guides.

Various methods can be employed for training the Guides. These include workshops, interaction through the Internet, video-conferencing etc.

The person who trains must have adequate knowledge of psychology and good understanding of human nature.

Principle 2:

Make it Intensive: Learning that goes in fits-and-starts results in wastage of effort by forgetting and re-learning. As the gap between two learning sessions increases, the amount of forgetting also increases and the amount of effort to re-learn the forgotten skill or technique also increases. Therefore, intensive focus on well-defined learning-tasks reduces the wastage of effort. The technique employed in IRP is to identify a limited set of skills or tasks on which to concentrate and then focus on these till the person has completely acquired them.

One more advantage of making learning intensive is that results come faster and thus encourage the learner as well as teacher.

Principle 3:

IRBs to ease the work:An IRB is an Intensive Reformation Block where the problematic inmates are keptunder greater security and more intense reformation effort. At least one IRBshould be created in each Central Prison and warders known for their patient and calm nature should be posted there.

IRBs help to segregate inmates into two categories --- thosewho must first be controlled and need more systematic reformation effortare kept in the IRB. Others remain in the general blocks and need only guidance and facilitation for moral growth. On an average around 2% of the inmate-strength belongs to the IRB category. Segregating them makes it easier to focus on the remaining 98%.

There should be a State Level IRB preferably in a prison that the Chief of the Prisons Department can visit more frequently and can personally direct.

Principle 4:

Listen more, talk when necessary: IRP uses the Person-centred approach of Carl Rogers. The prison-inmate is encouraged to discuss his problems and find solutions for them by himself. The role of the Guide is only to provide clarity whenever he finds that the inmate is getting confused and needs external assistance.

Even in the matter of identifying skills and learning-tasks the primary role is played by the inmate rather than by the Guide.

The Guide is essentially a facilitator in the moral growth of the inmate.

Principle 5:

Priority to Security:Any law-and-order problems or other disturbances can interfere with the IRP. Therefore, the warders and others should give priority of attention to security issues and then to the IRP issues

Principle 6:

Micro-level Reformation Technique: Although group activity has its value in all reformation efforts, IRP works by a micro-level process where the focus is on the individual rather than the group. His learning efforts as an individual must be monitored and guided and his moral growth should be the focus of the entire effort.

Principle 7:

Monitoring and Direction:IRP requires close monitoring and course-correction. For this a Central Agency is required which must work with dedication.

How IRP is practised in Tamil Nadu Prisons:

The following are the highlights of IRP being practised in Tamil Nadu

  • The entire effort is monitored and directed by the Additional Director General of Police in charge of prisons who acts as the Central Agency.
  • Each Central Prison has an IRB and Puzhal on the outskirts of Chennai has the State Level IRB.
  • Workshops, personal interaction and interaction through the Internet are used for training the Guides. Shortly, videos will be produced and circulated for this purpose.

We Welcome Those Who Wish To Join Us In This Effort:

If you are a psychologist or psychiatrist or have some other skill by which you would like to help us in the IRP effort, please contact the undersigned at the email id: irp.tn.prisons@gmail.com
Additional Director General of Police (Prisons)
Tamil Nadu Prison Department
Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority Tower II
No-1, Gandhi Irwin Road, Egmore, Chennai-600 008.

Phone: 91-44-28521512 ,
Fax: 91-44-28585942
E-Mail: tnprison@gmail.com

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This Page last updated on: August 14, 2012
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