KOTA BARU” Prison is not just a place made of high walls and heavy iron doors where convicts are made to serve their sentence, but also a place that acts as a university of life for inmates to learn vocational skills which can help them to find work upon their release.

In a visit to the female inmates’ section of Pengkalan Chepa Prison here, Bernama found that many inmates are turning over a new leaf and start to think ahead and prepare for their future.

Many of them are looking forward to returning to their family and reintegrate into society.

An inmate, Anita (not her real name), 35, who is serving her sentence for drug-related offences, said she has been joining culinary courses and now able to make various traditional ‘kuih’ such as curry puff, ‘akok’ and ‘talam’, as well as cookies and cakes for Hari Raya celebrations.

“While serving my sentence, I managed to obtain a vocational certificate (level 2) in culinary. Hence, upon my release, I hope to be able to earn a living by selling kuih and biscuits to support my four teenage children.

“An ex-convict friend who is now a Sarawak layer cake entrepreneur has inspired me to live a better life with my children and to forever leave the dark episode behind,” she said.

Another inmate known as Nani, 35, said the jail-term has improved her self-esteem and confidence.

“Now, I’m able to perform the five daily prayers ... I used to be ignorant of the commands of Allah.

“Prison teaches me to recite the holy verses of the Quran fluently and in my 15 years in prison, I’m now able to help others to read the Quran too,” said Nani who was sentenced for involuntary manslaughter.

Meanwhile, Kelantan Prison director, Senior Assistant Commissioner Mat Yaacob said the female inmates serving imprisonment for over one year would undergo four phases of rehabilitation. Two of them are religious studies and personal skills classes which include spa, culinary and sewing.

At the start of the first phase, he said, the inmates would undergo counselling sessions and get used to the new environment and new friends for two weeks.

He said inmates who learned skills such as culinary, welding and furniture-making will receive a Level 2 vocational certificate so they could have a better work prospect.

“Five years ago, we at the Pengkalan Chepa Prison started layer cake baking classes and manage to produce a successful layer cake entrepreneur who now based in Pasir Puteh.

“Even until now, we are providing supports to her to overcome challenges in life,” he said.

For 2020, the Pengkalan Chepa Prison’s performance indicator is to ensure that 90 inmates including 50 women will obtain the Level 2 vocational skills certificate.

“I think we could produce more, but there are space constraints as our workshop can only accommodate 50 prisoners at one time,” he said. — Bernama

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