Sharjah: From smart surveillance cameras to a food court and library, this correctional facility in Sharjah is on a par with the best in the world. Yet, over and above its infrastructural finesse, where this prison truly makes its mark is its ability to keep inmates’ welfare and long-term rehabilitation objectives at its core — at every step.
The Central Jail in Sharjah, which completed the second phase of its expansion plan recently, offers the promise of a new lease of life to its inmates, so that, once they complete their terms, they can reintigrate themselves into the mainstream of society and lead meaningful lives without a hitch.
Built at a cost of Dh400 million in the Al Ramtha area of the emirate, the new building for male inmates at Sharjah Central Jail was opened on June 2. The correctional facility can house 3,000 inmates once it is fully operational.
The 17,000 square metre prison has separate facilities for male and female inmates, housing for employees, a control room and visitors’ areas. The men’s facility comprises three floors and has two wings with 16 cells, a food court, prayer room, rest room, library and laundry.
His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, had ordered the expansion of the old punitive and rehabilitation centre and equip the new facility with services that met international standards.
Leading a meaningful life
The smart system-enabled central jail’s design has been done in order to ensure smooth running of the various rehabilitation programmes for its inmates, so that they can lead a meaningful life once they complete their prison terms. The new block has a capacity to hold 1,000 inmates, Brigadier Ahmad Shuhail, Director-General of Sharjah Punitive and Rehabilitation Establishments, told Gulf News. Work for the construction of a building for women inmates will begin soon.
Around 30 per cent of the inmates have already been moved to the new facility. The rest are expected to be moved by the end of this moth. The entire new jail complex comprises an administrative building, separate buildings for men, women and juveniles and workshops. The Punitive and Rehabilitation Establishments is equipped with modern technology to keep officers, inmates and the public safe, Brig. Shuhail added.
Centrally-operated gates and locks
Major Khalfan Salem Bin Shaqwa, Director of the Educational and Rehabilitation Branch at the facility, told Gulf News that the new building will be covered by 5,000 surveillance cameras. The control room at the facility is a first-of-its-kind in the region and is equipped with ‘analytical’ cameras, in addition to surveillance cameras. All the security cameras are linked to Sharjah Police’s Operations Room as part of the Sharjah Safe City project. All gates and locks are centrally operated from the control room.
Inmates are segregated at the correctional facility depending upon the nature of the crime they were involved in. Inmates guilty of minor offences — including financial cases, blood money and cases that do not require rehabilitation — are housed in the new block. All other inmates are kept in the old block that was opened in 2017.
Ensuring a healthy environment
For purposes of visits by inmates’ parents, lawyers and legal counsels, the number of visitor halls has been increased to six, Major Bin Shaqwa said.
Brig. Shuhail said: “We have a five-year plan for a well-equipped central jail. We are working hard to help the inmates return to normal life.”
He added that the priority for the jail authorities was to ensure a healthy environment for the inmates and provide them with suitable rehabilitation programmes. “We are keen to provide the inmates with moral and financial support and provide religious and health education to them.”