Working in open prisons: lessons from India

In 1954, a few years after India gained its independence, the governor of the western Indian state of Rajasthan and other freedom fighters who had spent time behind bars during the freedom struggle, decided to reimagine the colonial prison structure. They planned out the country’s first open prisons, which exist to this day and operate essentially as small villages where people who are completing their sentences are free to live with their families and to work as long as they respect a few key rules including daily roll-calls. Open prisons have withstood the test of time, and are a humane solution for rehabilitation, leading to negligible rates of recidivism, at a fraction of the cost of regular prisons.

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