On October 10th,ISKCON had it’s first program in Pula Prison. Eight devotees were present.HH Candramauli Swami gave the lecture. A very special person was also with us, Candra Prabhu from the U.S., who is employed in Oregon state jail as a counsellor, and also volunteers as a religious counselor. Mother Saci Mata did the translating, Divya Prabhanda Prabhu played harmonium and lead kirtan, Namacarya Prabhu played mridanga.Organizers of the program and also the karatal players were Nadia Nimai Prabhu and his wife Mother Malati Mala.And me, with the special task of writing a report on the event.
We arrived one hour early,the guards were a bit surprised, but they let us in after after the normal rountine check.Inside we were led into a wide, long hall where the program was to be held. The old jail building dated back to the Austro-Hungarian Empire period.
A couple of the guards escorted us in along with two ladies who were prison workers monitoring rehabilitation and recovery programs.Everyone was friendly, and because we came early we had a lot of time to talk with them about the prison and the inmates. They told us that the jail houses both inmates who were given court sentences, and those who are awaiting trial. Many come back to prison as it has become their home. During the years they spent inside they become unable to live outside.The ladies said there were about 5,300 people in prisons in Croatia (out of the poplulation of 4.5 million). Candra mentioned to them that in the U.S.A. there are 3 million persons in jail out of poplulation of 300 million which is 1% of the entire poplulation. The ladies were a bit shocked with such big numbers and said “well, 3 million inmates, that’s almost the entire population of Croatia!”