Sharjah Inmates cooked traditional food for other inmates during Ramadan and other days.Image credit: Aghaddir Ali and of Sharjah Punitive and Rehabilitation Establishments Image Credit:

Sharjah: Construction work of the second phase of the new central jail being built at a cost of Dh400 million in Sharjah’s Al Ramtha area will begin this month.

The whole focus of the new central jail’s design is to run rehabilitation programmes for inmates so that they could lead a productive life after their release, away from the world of crimes.

The second phase will include the construction of a block for male inmates, an administrative block and workshops, Colonel Ahmad Suhail, director-general of the Sharjah Punitive and Rehabilitation Establishments, told Gulf News.

The second phase itself is divided into two phases — demolition of the old site and construction of the new blocks.

The entire new jail complex will comprise an administrative building, separate buildings for men, women and juveniles, and workshops. The block of rest halls will be built in the third phase.

The first phase of the new Sharjah Central Jail was inaugurated in January 2017.

When completed, the new jail will offer inmates spacious cells and halls with adequate facilities, police said.

The priority is to keep the prison clean and healthy, and have rehabilitation programmes that prevent inmates from returning to a life of crime, Col Suhail said, noting that all rehabilitation programmes carried out at the central jail aim to make inmates aware of the mistakes they have committed.

The inmates are assigned daily activities, depending on which rehabilitation programme they have been assigned to undertake. The rehabilitation programme can be either occupational workshops or gives inmates the opportunity to continue their education. They include computer classes, tourism courses or religious programmes like memorising the Holy Quran.

The prisoners also get breaks when they can spend some time on the exercise ground, borrow books from the library and read, participate in sports or watch television.

Col Suhail explained how the Sharjah Government paid attention to the inmates and their families through a memorandum signed between Sharjah Police and a number of partners including Ayadi, Sharjah Charity Association and Emirates Red Crescent to conduct rehabilitation programmes and initiatives.

Cookery classes give inmates hope

Sharjah jail inmates who have finished the cookery course volunteer to cook meals as well as Ramadan food for other inmates.

As many as 25 inmates are cooking at the kitchen of the Sharjah Central Jail at present.

The kitchen itself is named Al Amal Restaurant — ‘amal’ means ‘hope’.

These inmates have learnt cooking all types of traditional food for the inmates in the facility.

The cookery classes and chance to practise the skills in the jail kitchen give the inmates a positive push, bringing them together in a collective experience of harmony and hope, Colonel Ahmad Suhail, director-general of the Sharjah Punitive and Rehabilitation Establishments, told Gulf News.

Inmates are trained in different skill sets and given certificates which will assist them in finding immediate employment when they are released from the jail, he said.

A total of 60-70 inmates are being taught by Emirati chef Mohammad Al Mana’i at present to cook different dishes and meals including chicken and meat biryani, salads [vegetable and fruit], curries etc.

The jail kitchen offers two meals a day. For the rest of the day, the jail canteen is open providing snacks to inmates, visitors and staff.

Buy products made by inmates online

A sculpture of a UAE solider holding the nation’s flag is placed at the entrance of the Sharjah Punitive and Rehabilitation Establishments.

This symbolic sculpture is made completely from recycled substance. It was designed in one of the workshops of the Punitive and Rehabilitation Establishments.

Inmates create different handicrafts at the workshops and these are available to be viewed on the Sharjah Police portal, Col Suhail said.

People can also buy products made by the jail inmates by placing orders on the website and they will be couriered to their home.

The prison has an ‘open-door policy’ and prisoners are encouraged to discuss any problems they may have with the staff, and Major General Saif Mohammad Al Ziri Al Shamsi, Commander-in-Chief of Sharjah Police, visits the jail regularly and personally follows up inmates’ issues, Col Suhail added.