THE ACQUISITION OF SKILLS BY INMATES IN WORK PROGRAMMES AT THE CENTRAL...
THE ACQUISITION OF SKILLS BY INMATES IN WORK PROGRAMMES
AT THE CENTRAL PRISON, MADRAS
N. PRABHA UNNITHAN AND M. Z. KHAN*
The present paper attempts to bring out, in relation to the acquisition of work skills,
the comparative role of personal background of the inmates and the nature of work assign-
ed to them at the Central Prison, Madras. Among personal factors, only educational
status and vice-level have been seen to be significant. In contrast, a number of work-related
variables like mode of assignment, working conditions, acceptance and utility of work,
willingness to switch work and others have shown discernible correspondence. That the
nature of work assignment has a greater relevance to the acquisition of work skills than
personal factors is in evidence here.
Mr. N. Prabha Unnithan is an ICSSR — Research Fellow in the Department of Crimi-
nology, University of Saugar, Sagar, 470 003. Dr. M. Z. Khan is the Head of the Research
Division of National Institute of Social Defence, R. K. Puram, New Delhi-110 022.
Introduction
equally important. Work place, equipment,
instructors and the quality of instruction —
Despite the gradual shift (see Teeters, all would have a bearing on the acquisition
1969; Conrad, 1973) at the conceptual and, of skills and achievement by (the subjects.
in certain countries, at the operational In this respect, the importance of incen-
levels from institutional correction to non-
tives can scarcely be overemphasised (see
institutional forms of correction, the rele-
Unnithan and Khan, 1978). Made available
vance of work programmes has remained formally or informally, as punishment or
unaffected. As a matter of fact, in the newer reward, in material or non-material form,
programmes directed at the reformation and incentives play a critical role in the acqui-
rehabilitation of persons who have come sition-process. A persual of literature on the
into conflict with law, the significance of subject leads one to identify two streams
'work' has increased considerably.
of thought. The first attaches importance
The emphasis on work programmes is to the background of the subjects in learn-
not without justification. Germane to the ing skills. In relation to prison settings, Fox
issue is, however, the question: Do the (1952) lists overage, poor physique, tempe-
inmates acquire work skills? Many contend ramental unsuitability and the short terms
that they are lethargic, malingerers or 'un-
of a vast majority of prisoners as factors
teachable', because of incapacity, illiteracy responsible for the insufficient acquisition
and other personal factors. It would be, of skills. Pillai (1959) adds to this the
nonetheless, unrealistic to presume that only 'cultural backwardness' of offenders, parti-
personal factors are a barrier in the acqui-
cularly in developing countries. The other
sition of work skills. Even after including view holds that the real problem is not the
such subtle personal factors like aptitude, personal inadequacy of the subjects but the
interest and capability, there are many general work environment of correctional
other factors which should not be lost sight institutions and the nature of work assign-
of (see Khan and Unnithan, 1978). A work ed to them. It is observed, for example,
programme to be effective needs to be align-
that the low productivity associated with
ed not only to individual personality-
the inmates of prisons is due, in general,
needs but also to the market demands in "to the inhibitory and inimical climate of
the community. Training environment is work" (Raj, 1970). Further, "work which
* The authors wish to emphasise that the article has been written in their personal capacity
and reflects their own views.

2
N. PRABHA UNNITHAN AND M. Z. KHAN
is unaligned to personality-needs, mono-
institution is more important than their
tonous in character and /or irrelevant to the personal background". As outlined earlier
economy outside — as many of the trades a number of inmate-attributes are brought
(in correctional institutions) unmistakably up in relation to their participation in voca-
are — is bound to dilute interest and gene-
tional training programmes and their pro-
rate indifference or even aversion" (Khan ductivity. Attention has been paid to the
and Unnithan, 1978). Indeed, these two inmates working in 'industries' in the
divergent emphases have given rise to a Central Prison, Madras. From a list of 853
controversy relating to work programmes such inmates (all males) a simple random
or prison labour which remains, as yet, sample of 105 inmates has been drawn, At
unresolved.
the same time, all the vocational instructors,
numbering thirteen, have been included
Present Paper
in the sample. The role of the voca-
tional staff has been however limited to
In relation to a correctional institution, assessing the level of acquisition of work
the present paper attempts to look into the skills by the inmates under their charge. In
controversy — whether the acquisition of the light of the hypothesis, an interview-
work skills is linked more with the personal schedule encompassing the areas of study
characteristics of inmates or with the nature delineated earlier has been developed.
of work assigned to them in the institu-
Further, it has been rendered into Tamil,
tion. The usefulness of work programmes pretested and standardised in both form
is such that it would be lost on few inmates. and manner of administration.
There is every reason for the inmates to
In order to secure an estimate of the
come out of their lethargy, to take advan-
level of acquisition of work skills by the
tage of the situation and acquire work inmates, a ten-point continuum carrying the
skills — taught as part of the institutional following instructions was given to the voca-
programme. Nevertheless, if the inmates tional instructors for each inmate: "The
have not been able to come up, it could be acquisition of skills in the trades in the
attributed to certain underlying reasons. In institution may be represented on a 10-
view of this, the objective of the present point scale on which an untrained, unskilled
paper is two-fold: First, to ascertain and fresh inmate is represented by 0: and,
whether the inmates have been able to on the other hand, an inmate who is fully
acquire or improve skills in the work assign-
trained and possibly as skilled in the trade
ed to them and, secondly, to determine the as the instructor himself, by numeral 10.
relative importance of the personal factors Then —
of the inmates and of the nature of work
assigned to them in the acquisition of work
skills. This should aid in developing a
better understanding of the institution and
the inmates. Further, it is likely to have
implications for the implementation of
(i) Where would you place this inmate
work programmes at the institutional level. at the time of this entry; and
Keeping these issues in view, the present
(ii) Where would you place him now?
paper proceeds on the hypothesis, "In the
acquisition of work skills by inmates, the
The data for the present study have been
nature of the work assigned to them in the collected during the early months of 1976

THE ACQUISITION OF SKILLS BY INMATES IN WORK PROGRAMMES
3
(interviews completed, inmates, 95 and learning process like acquisition of work
vocational staff, 13). Most of the items skills, it is difficult to ignore the age fac-
relating to the inmates' background and tor. Not only is the amount of learning
some relating to the nature of their work large in the early stages of life but it tends
have been cross-checked with their 'history also to level off from a certain point of
tickets'. The data thus collected have been age. Is age of the inmates related to their
brought to bear on the hypothesis. Towards acquisition of work skills? On going
this, they have been sifted, classified and through Table 1.01 it would be found that
statistically analysed. With regard to the about three-fourths of them are below
acquisition of work skills, the difference
between the position on the continuum of a
T A B L E 1.01
given inmate at the time of his entry and SHOWING AGE OF THE INMATES AND THEIR LEVEL
at the time of data-collection as indicated
OF ACQUISITION OF WORK SKILLS
by the concerned instructor has been taken
as his score which has been grouped into
low, medium and high levels of acquisition
of work skills. This study variable has been
cross-tabulated. Towards drawing statistical
inferences, measures like proportions, per-
centages, ratios, chi-square and contingency
coefficient (see Snedecor and Cochran,
1968) have been used. Further, in order to
ascertain the nature and extent of rela-
tionship between the study variable and
other variables, the statistic of rank-corre-
lation (tau) has been used (see Siegel,
1956).
thirtyfive years of age, the median being
27.7 years. Apparently, as the majority of
Findings
the inmates cannot be regarded even as
middle-aged, they cannot be presumed to
Before proceeding further, we may have have reached the level-off stage in the
a closer look at the distribution of the general learning process. Besides, a mild
study variable (see Table 1.01), namely, trend is seen, indicating that the younger
the acquisition of work skills. As would inmates have been able to acquire more
be seen a little later, a vast majority of the work skills than their older counterparts
inmates have been rated either medium (tau=—0.11). However, this is not support-
(40.0%) or high (24.3%) in this regard, and ed by the statistical values, the probability
a little over one-third of them have been associated with chi-square, contingency
rated as low. Is this position entirely un-
coefficient and rank-correlation is much
usual? This apart, this kind of distribu-
higher than the acceptable level.
tion of the inmates in respect of their
The First United Nations Congress on the
level of acquisition of work skills may be Prevention of Crime and Treatment of
examined in relation to their personal fac-
Offenders (1955) is explicitly in favour of
tors and their work assignment along with work by the inmates "subject to their phy-
related issues.
sical and mental fitness". Prison Manuals
Personal Factors: While discussing a of all the states provide for thorough and

4
N. PRABHA UNNITHAN AND M. Z. KHAN
periodical medical check-up of the inmates. literacy rate among the inmates is high
While coding the physical fitness of the (40.77%) in Tamil Nadu and still higher
sampled inmates, their history-tickets have (see Table 1.03) in the Central Prison,
been consulted. Attention has been paid Madras (72.6%). What is more, nearly half
to medical problems or disabilities which of the inmates have had schooling up to
may directly or indirectly affect the inma-
secondary stage or beyond. That education
tes' capacity to learn and work.
facilitates the acquisition of work skills is
Table 1.02 shows that nearly half of the
TABLE 1.03
inmates do not suffer any medical disability
which may be expected to hinder their SHOWING EDUCATIONAL STATUS OF THE INMATES
AND THEIR LEVEL OF ACQUISITION OF WORK SKILLS
participation in the work-programmes.
T A B L E 1.02
SHOWING PHYSICAL FITNESS OF THE INMATES AND
THEIR LEVEL OF ACQUISITION OF WORK SKILLS
X2= 11.09429; df = 6; C = 0.32337;
0.05 < p < 0 . 1 0 ; tau = 0.21206; p < 0.001.
brought out by the data. The distribution
is found to be significant (p < 0.10). Where-
At the same time about one-fifth of them as the less educated are over-represented in
are seen to have major medical disabili-
the category of low acquisition of skills, the
ties. Has physical fitness of the inmates better educated are over-represented in the
any relation to their acquisition of work category of high acquisition. The two
skills? The values of chi-square, contin-
variables also show a good deal of cor-
gency coefficient and rank-correlation are respondence (C=0.323) and correlation
insignificant. Apparently physical fitness (tau=0.22).
has no direct linkage with the acquisition
The work experience which an inmate
of work skills.
may have had before his entry into the
institution would undoubtedly equip him
Formal education received by the in-
for the acquisition of work skills. How-
mates, as an aid to adaptation to changed ever only a very small proportion of the
conditions and to adoption of new work inmates (9%) are found (Table 1.04) to
skills, has been looked into. As reported have had work experience which can be
earlier (Khan and Unnithan, 1978) the related to their present assignment.

THE ACQUISITION OF SKILLS BY INMATES IN WORK PROGRAMMES
5
T A B L E 1.04
the data as well as the statistics suggests
no such trend.
SHOWING PRIOR WORK EXPERIENCE OF THE INMATES
AND THEIR ACQUISITION OF WORK SKILLS
T A B L E 1.05
SHOWING OFFENDER-TYPE OF THE INMATES AND
THEIR LEVEL OF ACQUISITION OF WORK SKILLS
The rest of them are found to possess
either unrelated or insignificant experience.
This position hardly augurs well for the Further, an attempt has been made to look
acquisition of work skills. Nonetheless, into one more offender-typology: indivi-
when the former is examined in relation dual/group offender (Table 1.06). Although
to the latter, the resulting distribution is
found to be rather unexpected. The repre-
sentation of those who have had prior
TABLE 1.06
work experience is found to be identical in SHOWING OFFENDER-TYPE OF THE INMATES AND
the three categories of acquisition level. The
THEIR LEVEL OF ACQUISITION OF WORK SKILLS
insignificant statistical values suggest that
the variables are more or less independent.
It is hardly debatable that the nature of
offence for which one is committed to an
institution is by itself an important personal
factor, and some attention needs to be
paid to various offender-typologies. First
of all, the phenomenon of recidivism may
be looked into. Those inmates who have
been violating law persistently and have
been committed to institutions more than
once may have an involvement different
from (those who have been committed to
an institution for the first time. A perusal
of Table 1.05 would reveal that 63.15 per a vast majority of the inmates are indivi-
cent of the inmates are first offenders. dual offenders, the typology by itself shows
Does this have any bearing on the acqui-
no correspondence with the study variable,
sition of work skills? The distribution of namely, the acquisition of work skills.

6
N. PRABHA UNNITHAN AND M. Z. KHAN
While on this we may also look into the
TABLE 1.08
general nature of offence for which the SHOWING LENGTH OF SENTENCE OF THE INMATES
inmates have been sentenced (Table 1.07). AND THEIR LEVEL OF ACQUISITION OF WORK SKILLS
It would be noticed that majority of the
inmates have been sentenced for property
offence. Nevertheless the proportion of
those who are in for murder or other
offences against the person is no less signi-
ficant. This may be mainly due to chance
sampling. This apart, the nature of offence
is seen to vary significantly with the study
variable (p< 0.02). It is found that the
inmates who are in for murder or other
offences against person have been able to
acquire work skill better than those for
other offences. A fair degree of association
between the two variables is also in
evidence.
skills. The data show significant variations
TABLE 1.07
and the relatively large value of contin-
gency coefficient also suggests a linkage
SHOWING OFFENCE COMMITTED BY THE INMATES
between the two variables. This is, how-
AND THEIR LEVEL OF ACQUISITION OF WORK SKILLS
ever, only mildly supported by the statis-
tic of rank-correlation. Further, along this
line of analysis, the length of the term
already served by the inmates in the insti-
tution has been analysed (see Table 1.09).
TABLE 1.09
SHOWING TERM SERVED BY THE INMATES AND
THEIR LEVEL OF ACQUISITION OF WORK SKILLS
A little delineation of the particulars
regarding the imprisonment of the inmates
would not be out of place here. From
Table 1.08, it will be seen that majority of
the inmates are short-termers. The length
of sentence of about two-thirds of them
is less than five years. The length of sen-
tence of the inmates may now be examined
in relation to their acquisition of work More than half the inmates are relatively

THE ACQUISITION OF SKILLS BY INMATES IN WORK PROGRAMMES
7
newcomers in that they have put in less of low acquisition of skills. In sharp con-
than one year in the institution, and only trast, those who are low on vice-level are
a small proportion of them has been in the over-represented in high acquisition of
institution for five years or more. That work skills. The trend of the data indicates
those who have been in the insti-
that the two are interconnected (C=0.344).
tution and perhaps on vocational train-
While the relatively larger value of rank-
ing for a longer period have an opportu-
correlation reinforces this contention, its
nity to move up in the acquisition of work negative value indicates that the two varia-
skills, is brought out by the statistics.
bles are inversely related.
In discussing personal attributes of the
Nature of work: As already outlined, the
inmates, a small but relevant consideration work assigned to an inmate and related
would be the vice-level among the inmates. issues are likely to affect his acquisition of
In this the focus has been on the use of work skills. In this connection, we may first
drugs. Notwithstanding the 'Jail Manual', have a look at the vocational trades avail-
various intoxicants reportedly do manage able at the Central Prison, Madras. There
to reach inmates clandestinely. A compo-
are in the institution, mainly six vocational
site variable, vice-level, has been developed trades (see Table 2.01). Some of these
by coding the use of alcohol, cannabis, trades, it would be seen, are interesting
opium and other intoxicants. A glance at (Tailoring, Printing Press etc.) while others
Table 1.10 would show that more than half are monotonous (Tagmaking, phenyl-
of the inmates rate high in this regard. making etc.) The inmates have been assign-
ed to these trades mostly in accordance
with the manpower requirements of those
TABLE 1.10
units. For instance, the printing press
SHOWING VICE-LEVEL OF THE INMATES AND THEIR
operating in the institution is a branch of
LEVEL OF ACQUISITION OF WORK SKILLS
the Government Press to which the services
of inmates are provided as assistance to
about fifty regular employees. The number
of inmates assigned to the press fluctuates
with the order-book.
For satisfactorily participating in the
vocational trades, the inmates are entitled
to a number of incentives: (a) additional
remission of sentence of two days per
months for hard work, and (b) bidis at the
rate of one and a half bidi per working
day issued weekly. There is no wage-earn-
ing scheme for the inmates. Part of the
present study reported earlier (Unnithan
Those who are low on the vice level ac-
and Khan, 1978) has found the incentives
count for a very small proportion of the deficient in content and in operation.
inmates. The data have been analysed in
At this juncture, a word on the overall
relation to the acquisition of work skills. approach and method employed to train
The distribution is found to be significant. inmates in different trades would not be
Those who are high in respect of vice-
out of place. Aimed at endowing the
level are over-represented in the category inmates with relevant trade skills, voca-

8
N. PRABHA UNNITHAN AND M. Z. KHAN
tional training needs to be based on spe-
making have been rated low, and those
cific job analyses as well as tested and engaged in Printing Press as low and
standardised training principles. It needs to medium. Does this indicate lack of oppor-
utilise modem methods like group dis-
tunity for the inmates to learn? In any
cussion and visuals including illustrated case, the distribution of the data in the
manuals and films as also techniques like rest of the trades is far from being indica-
'vestibule school' (Anastasi, 1964). Baraiz tive of any discernible trend (p < 0.2).
(1967) emphasises pre-employment and
Next, an attempt has been made to exa-
general shop-training in similar situations. mine the study variable in relation to the
Besides, there should be "coordination mode of assignment — whether the work
between production and class-room voca-
tional study" (Taft, 1956). What is the
TABLE 2.02
position in this regard at the Central Pri-
SHOWING MODE OF ASSIGNMENT OF INMATES TO
son, Madras? Notwithstanding the 'tasks'
WORK PROGRAMMES AND THEIR LEVEL OF
ACQUISITION OF WORK SKILLS
to be completed in one day by an inmate,
laid down in the Prison Manual (1894) the
idea of job-analysis appears to have at-
tracted nobody's attention. As a matter of
fact, little systematic effort (instructor in-
mate ratio, 1:66) to train inmates in the
vocational trades is in evidence.
Against this backdrop we may now turn
to examine the relation between the acqui-
sition of work skills and work assigned to
inmates and related issues. Table 2.01
T A B L E 2.01
SHOWING WORK ASSIGNMENT OF THE INMATES AND THEIR LEVEL OF ACQUISITION
OF WORK SKILLS
brings out information on the trades assign-
being done by the inmates is of their own
ed to the inmates in relation to acquisition choice or has been allotted to them (Table
of work skills by them. It would be noticed 2.02). More than three-fourths of the in-
that the two inmates engaged in phenyl-
mates have been assigned to trades. In the

THE ACQUISITION OF SKILLS BY INMATES IN WORK PROGRAMMES
9
category of high acquisition of work skills, significance and the role of these. This is
the proportion of the inmates who have notwithstanding the fact that most of them
themselves chosen the work is more than had no hand in the selection of the trade
that of those who have been allotted the they are engaged in. Table 2.04 shows that
work. The two variables appear to be more than 83% of the inmates are able to
closely related. Further, the negative as well get at the significance of work programmes.
as the large value of rank-correlation
underlines the trend that acquisition of
TABLE 2.04
skill decreases with (arbitrary?) assignment. SHOWING RESPONSE OF THE INMATES TO THE QUES-
In terms of space, ventilation and clean-
TION, " I N GENERAL, DO YOU FEEL INMATES SHOULD
PARTICIPATE IN WORK PROGRAMME?" AND THEIR
liness, (the institution offers working condi-
LEVEL OF ACQUISITION OF WORK SKILLS
tions which appear to be somewhat indi-
fferent. Table 2.03 brings out that an over-
whelming majority of the inmates is not
satisfied with the conditions under which
they work. This response pattern shows
highly significant variations with the acqui-
sition of work skills.
TABLE 2.03
"SHOWING OPINION OF THE INMATES REGARDING
WORKING CONDITIONS AND THEIR LEVEL OF
ACQUISITION OF WORK SKILLS
Nearly three-fourths of the inmates who do
not look with favour at work have low
acquisition levels. In contrast, only about
one-fourth of the inmates who feel other-
wise are seen in this category. The
statistical association between the two
variables is also relatively large.
This line has been pursued further by
assessing the opinion of the inmates as to
the utility of their work assignment. This
stimulus aims to encompass the economic-
There is in evidence an unmistakable rehabilitative aspects after release. It follows
trend that the two variables are interlinked; that the vocational trade which is aligned
this is further confirmed by the positive to the market demands outside the prison
and large value of rank-correlation.
would appear, to an inmate, more useful.
Do the inmates accept work program-
Table 2.05 brings out interesting details.
mes in general? Although the inmates More than 61% of them find the work
have to participate in a particular work they are doing useful, and only about 23%
programme, the uptake would probably of them feel the opposite. This response-
tend to maximise if they appreciate the pattern, when cross-tabulated with the

10
N. PRABHA UNNITHAN AND M. Z. KHAN
acquisition level, shows highly significant
TABLE 2.06
differences. The large value of contingency SHOWING RESPONSE OF THE INMATES TO THE
coefficient as also that of rank-correlation QUESTION, " W I T H REGARD TO YOUR PRESENT WORK
strongly suggests that the inmates who have ASSIGNMENT, DO YOU LIKE I T ? " AND THEIR LEVEL
OF ACQUISITION OF WORK SKILLS
given a positive response in this regard also
tend to be 'achievers'.
T A B L E 2.05
SHOWING OPINION OF THE INMATES ON THE UTILITY
OF THEIR WORK ASSIGNMENT AND THEIR LEVEL OF
ACHIEVEMENT OF WORK SKILLS
The majority of them wants to continue
with what they have been doing. Has it a
linkage with the acquisition level? As
shown by various statistics, the inmates
who do not wish to change their work are
In keeping with this theme, an attempt relatively greater achievers than those who
has been made to ascertain the liking/ want to change.
dislike of inmates for the work they are
doing in the institution (see Table 2.06).
TABLE 2.07
While more than 24% express dislike,
double this proportion show a liking in SHOWING WHETHER INMATES WOULD LIKE TO
CHANGE THEIR PRESENT WORK ASSIGNMENT AND
this respect. On being analysed in terms
THEIR LEVEL OF ACQUISITION OF WORK SKILLS
of the acquisition level, this response-
pattern brings out highly significant statis-
tics. The two variables also show a good
deal of correspondence (C=0.467). How-
ever, the value of rank-correlation is far
from being significant. On the basis of
these statistics, it can be safely inferred
that the acquisition of work skills in a
given trade is related to a liking for it.
Towards further ascertaining the liking/
dislike of the inmates for the work they
are doing, their willingness to change it for
some other trade available in the institu-
tion has been ascertained (Table 2.07).

T H E ACQUISITION OF SKILLS BY INMATES IN WORK PROGRAMMES
11
As a corollary, the opinion of the in-
sonal background of inmates and the
mates has been ascertained as to whether nature of work assigned to them. The present
they would like to continue with the voca-
paper has set out to analyse and compare
tional trade they are pursuing in the insti-
the two in relation to the acquisition
tution— on their release. It is worth notic-
of work skills by inmates at the Central
ing (see Table 2.08) that nearly three-fourths Prison, Madras.
At the outset, the question needs to be
TABLE 2.08
answered whether the inmates are able to
SHOWING WHETHER INMATES W I S H TO CONTINUE IN
acquire work skills. The data show that
THE TRADE THEY ARE LEARNING IN THE INSTITUTION
about two-thirds of the inmates have been
AFTER RELEASE, AND THEIR LEVEL OF ACQUISITION
OF WORK SKILLS
rated by their vocational instructors as me-
dium or high 'achievers'. That about 36
per cent of the inmates are low achievers
can hardly be regarded as unusual. It
would, therefore, be justifiable to infer that
the inmates are able to acquire and im-
prove skills in the work assigned to them
in the institution.
Towards assessing the importance of
the personal background of the inmates in
the acquisition of work skills, a number of
factors have been brought under analysis.
The factor of age shows a negative corre-
lation with the study variable. For obvious
reasons, the aged are slow on the uptake.
But the median age of 27.7 years, suggests
of the inmates do not intend to follow the that most inmates are young enough to
trade they are on in the institution. In learn and acquire work skills.
view of the apparent dissonance between the
available vocational trades in the institu-
Nearly half of the inmates are physically
tion and outside occupational patterns in fit and only a small proportion of them is
the community, this kind of inmate res-
afflicted with major medical disabilities.
ponse is far from being surprising. The va-
However, what is germane to the issue is
riable has been examined in relation to the that physical fitness shows little relation
acquisition level. A mild trend is seen in-
Co the acquisition of work skills. In regard
dicating that the inmates who respond in to educational status, the inmates appear
the affirmative are greater achievers.
to be well off, in that about half of them
have had schooling up to the higher secon-
Conclusions
dary level. What is more, this variable
shows a significant degree of correlation
While the importance of work program-
with the study variable. Perhaps, as general
mes in the social reclamation of those who preparation for life, education has aided
come in conflict with law is agreed upon them in acquiring work skills, In sharp
in principle, several reservations are ex-
contrast, prior relevant work experience
pressed with regard to their implementa-
which is found in fewer cases has shown
tion. Concerning institutional settings, these little relation in this regard (see also, Home)
reservations tend to polarise around per-
Office Research Unit, 1978).

12
N. PRABHA UNNITHAN AND M. Z. KHAN
Assuming the criminal act and related the inmates in different vocational trades
aspects to be part of general behaviour, (see Johnson, 1967). The study variable has
attention has been paid to several relevant shown highly significant variations with the
issues. About 37% of the inmates are reci-
view of the inmates concerning the working
divists, and an equal proportion group-
conditions. Nearly half of them have been
offenders. Neither are however significant in dissatisfied in this regard. The two varia-
the present context. On the other hand, bles have shown a high degree of corres-
offence, length of sentence and term-served pondence as well as covariation. Perhaps
bring out significant statistical results. Are working conditions relating to a vocational
they not inter-connected? Perhaps, they trade are by themselves an important moti-
represent some kind of a 'time-syndrome'. vating factor.
In other words, the inmates who have been
The data further reveal that more than
committed to the institution for serious 83 per cent of the inmates are aware of the
offences, who are undergoing relatively long role and significance of work programmes,
sentences and who have completed many and feel that the inmates should participate
years in the institution are likely to acquire in them. This apart, this connects up well
more work skills than others. Nevertheless, with the study variable. Also the rank-
the relevance of this time-syndrome to the correlation is positive and significant. Do
study variable is at best debatable.
they find it useful? Three inmates out of
The use of intoxicants by the inmates has five find it useful. The value of rank- cor-
also been looked into. Interestingly nearly relation, though positive, is comparatively
half of the respondents have medium or smaller than in the earlier case. In the same
high vice-level. This has also shown highly context an attempt has been made to in-
significant variations and an inverse relation-
quire into the liking of the inmates for their
ship with the study variable.
work assignment. In terms of the study
While discussing the nature of work variable the distribution is highly signifi-
programmes, attention has been paid cant. Nonetheless the value of rank-correla-
to the availability of vocational trades, tion though positive is entirely insignifi-
incentives and training methods. Needless cant. If we pay attention to acceptance and
to say, all of these leave much to be desired. usefulness of, and liking for, the work
Interestingly and surprisingly, work assign-
assignment on the part of the inmates, some
ment itself shows few significant variations kind of scaling-down effect would be seen.
with the study variable. Does this signify Most inmates appear to recognise the signi-
lack of enthusiasm on the part of inmates ficance of work programmes, but fewer
irrespective of the trade they are persuing? find them useful and still fewer like them.
Or, else, does this indicate a constricting This downward trend is also reflected in
vocational choice?
the decreasing values of correlation.
It has been observed that out of five
Proceeding along this line further, an
inmates, four have had no hand in choosing attempt has been made to ascertain as to
their trade. Perhaps, their allotment has how many inmates wish to change their
been governed by the manpower require-
work. The inmates are divided on the issue.
ments of different units. In any case, this This has also shown an appreciable degree
has been seen to influence noticeably the of covariation with the study variable. The
acquisition of work skills. Indication is that statistic of rank-correlation suggests that
the acquisition of work skills markedly those who wish to stay on their assignment
decreases with the arbitrary assignment of tend to be better achievers. Lastly, the

THE ACQUISITION OF SKILLS BY INMATES IN WORK PROGRAMMES
13
rehabilitative role of the vocational trades nothing about them" (1956).
has been explored. Only one-fourth of the
On the other hand, a whole range of
inmates state that they would continue to factors associated with the nature of the
pursue the trade they have learnt in the work assigned are found to be important.
institution. That the values of chi-square, Interestingly, the work assignment itself
contingency coefficient and rank-correlation shows scant relation to the acquisition level.
are insignificant goes to show that this This may, among other things, be due to
variable has little connection with the study the dissonance between the work assigned
variable. Incidentally, this also hints at the and the personality needs of the inmates.
feeble rehabilitative role the work pro-
This is what the examination of other work-
grammes may be having. This may be due related factors brings out. The mode of
to the lack of alignment between the voca-
assignment, the working conditions, the
tional trades and community manpower acceptance and the perceived usefulness of
needs.
work programmes and the willingness to
change the assignment; — all have a bearing
To recapitulate, in the acquisition of on the acquisition of work skills. Keeping
work skills by the inmates, only a few this in view it would be justifiable to con-
personal factors like educational back-
clude that, in acquiring work skills, both
ground (positive) and vice-level (negative) personal background of the inmates and
appear to be important. Therefore, if the nature of work assigned are significant.
training in skills and diligence is the job But the nature of work is, the data are un-
of correction, then, in the words of Jones, equivocal, more important than the per-
"We are not entitled to put forward pri-
sonal background of the inmates. The
soners' shortcomings as an excuse for doing hypothesis is thus amply subsantiated.
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