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No Fear No Favour

Get A Hair-Cut From A Salon Where Workers Are Actually Prisoners!

The new salon is recently opened in Kerala’s Kannur central prison, where prisoners are working as a barber, and actually prices are quiet cheap too.

The establishment itself looks like any upscale men’s salon — glass doors, posters of coiffed men all over, air-
conditioned interiors with a row of customers waiting their turn. But it’s not so similar to your any day barbershop, instead of a receptionist, a policeman armed with an assault rifle welcomes you, one armed cop will stand and guard the door with more severity than the average doorman. And then you’ll meet the beauticians who are all convicted prisoners.

Much like regular Jawed Habib’s salon, this prison salon also has high-quality glass doors, posters of male models with perfect hairs, air-conditioned interiors and bunch of customers waiting for their turn. The salon name is Freedom Expressions, and was born out of the prison’s vocational training programme, conducted in association with NGO Rudesti (Rural Development and Self-Employment Training Institute). Thirty prisoners were selected for this job based on their behaviour, Prisoners with the closest release dates and with a record of good behaviour were chosen, for the training program. The idea behind the initiative is for the men to utilise this skill once they are out of prison. Good job!

Once the training had ended, the prison authorities decided to turn an unused generator room just outside the prison walls into a parlour, so the men would not lose touch with their new skill. The first-of-its-kind salon was launched in April, open to the public from 9 am to 5.30 pm daily. All the money earned goes to the prisoners. They can send 50% of their income home, keep 25% for expenses such as the jail canteen, and the rest goes into a ‘release fund’ to be handed over at the time of their release. At rates cheaper than salons in the city, the convicts at Freedom Expressions offer services such as haircuts, shaves, hair dyeing, shampoos, manicures and pedicures. A hair-cut, and massage will only cost you 100 rupees.The public response has been better than anyone expected. More than 75 customers come every day in salon. Many come for the experience of having their hair cut by a convict, and also for the low prices.

This isn’t the only unusual initiative at the Kannur prison. In 2012, the authorities started Malabar Freedom Taste, a food factory that churns out ready-to-eat rotis, chicken biryani and banana chips made by the prisoners. Now we had more reasons to visit Kerala, right?

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