Redefining Rehabilitation: Mugdha Sukhramani’s Vision for Restorative Justice in Prisons

In an insightful presentation, Mugdha Sukhramani, a final year law student at Christ (Deemed to be University) in Bangalore, India, and a Social Worker and Documentation Associate at Counsel to Secure Justice in Delhi, presented her perspective on the scarcely discussed concept of restorative justice (RJ) within the prison system. With a rich background in criminology, criminal justice, and specific research on prison systems and sentencing policies, Mugdha’s insights provided a fresh perspective on the subject.

The crux of Mugdha’s argument rested on the contradicting nature of prisons, which claim to serve dual purposes – punishment and rehabilitation. While society perceives prisons as a protective mechanism, it ironically excludes the very individuals who are confined within its walls. She brought forth the idea that the predominant methods of prison management often ignore the holistic development of the individual, focusing only on punitive measures.

According to Mugdha, prisons should be recognized as communities unto themselves. These are places where the values of restorative justice could and should be deeply integrated, ensuring that all involved parties fully embrace them. She expressed concern over the inherent toughness and rigid environment of prisons, which often denies inmates the chance to be vulnerable, thereby stifling their emotional and personal growth.

The presentation pivoted around the transformative potential of restorative justice. Employing RJ within the prison system, she argued, could introduce a sense of reality and instill core values of goodness among inmates. By focusing on the principles of healing and active listening, prisons could provide inmates with the tools they need to truly rehabilitate, connect with their inner selves, and prepare for reintegration into society.

She highlighted the potential of healing and listening circles as a way of life for those incarcerated. Such approaches not only promote personal growth but also offer inmates a sense of inclusion, a feeling that’s often lost upon imprisonment. By nurturing these values and providing avenues for inmates to heal from past harm, prisons could play an active role in reducing the chances of re-criminalization.

Mugdha’s presentation shed light on a prison system that, in many ways, is in dire need of reform. The conventional approach, which pits punishment against rehabilitation, fails to recognize the potential benefits of restorative justice. By integrating RJ practices within prisons, there’s an opportunity to create environments that prioritize genuine rehabilitation over mere punishment, fostering growth, healing, and a genuine chance at redemption for inmates.

In conclusion, Mugdha Sukhramani’s presentation offered a profound reflection on the possibilities of transforming the prison system through the lens of restorative justice. Her perspectives and ideas serve as a testament to the potential that lies in reshaping the ways in which we perceive and manage prisons, focusing not just on punitive measures but on genuine, transformative rehabilitation.