I knew the justice system wasn’t working. I knew the prison didn’t make the prisoners better. I knew the I knew that that nobody wouldn’t give them a second chance.
Yet I chose the project. Introducing the concept of Open Prison system to Sri Lanka.
When I proposed the idea at the beginning of the Semester I knew it was going to be good. There was a cause behind it and there was a solution behind it. And there was a need. But an idea cannot just be introduced to a society completely unaware of it and except them to embrace it. Specially when it’s such a sensitive topic. There are many who will question heavily on the morals and the practicality of this “Idea” introduced to Sri Lanka. But the resistance was not the problem, the problem was that I was part of the resistance.
We all dream of a peaceful, perfect world, but at one point we have to take a good hard look at reality. People aren’t convicted and imprisoned for being good. They have crossed the justice set out in the country, willingly or un-willingly. So, before I went ahead with this project of producing a better solution and better life for Sri Lankan prisoners, I had to question myself.
What did I believe in? Have I not looked at the Forbidding Black gates of the Walikada prison with judgment and fear? Have I not wondered what they have done to be in there? Did I not believe that I deserved what they have?
I was not alone. These are the thoughts of Sri Lankans towards Prisoners, Prisons and Justice system. Every day we are fed acts violence, rape, injustice through the media. Therefore, it is not surprising to find that most of the population has such a strong fast need and belief to bring justice to those who has wronged.
That’s when I started my research. I started reading more papers, more articles, more theories and more interviews, not just in Sri Lanka but around the world. It wasn’t enough. I stood in line for four days to get an acceptance letter to visit the Walikada Prison, only maximum prison in Colombo. The experience I’ve gathered through this research journey is unexplainably sombre but yet enlightening. The more I knew, the more I came to figuring out the point that connects all the prisoners in the world, and what connects them to us.
They are Humans. Just like you and just like me.