Bangladesh mulls clothes factories in jails

DHAKA, May 11, 2011 (AFP) – Bangladesh’s prison authorities on Wednesday announced plans to set up garment factories in the country’s overcrowded jails in a bid to help convicts acquire skills and make money. The project, which has not yet been approved by the government, aims to set up factories first in major prisons before expanding to all Bangladesh’s 68 jails, deputy national prison chief Iftekharul Islam said.

“The aim is to impart life skills to the country’s prisoners. Garment jobs would also help them earn a good amount of money that will be handy when they finish their term,” he told AFP.

The home ministry, which oversees the country’s prisons, is in favour of the plan, Islam said, which will need formal approval from the government before coming into effect.

Bangladesh has a prison population of more than 60,000 people including nearly 1,000 inmates on death row. The country’s prisons are chronically overcrowded, rights groups say.

Islam said most prisons already had small workshops where convicts make craft items for sale, but said producing clothes, which will be sold in local markets and not exported, would be more financially rewarding.

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