Ex- prisoners can struggle to find employment once they are back in the real world again. Faced with the benefit they find themselves turning back to crime to be able to afford to live.
The cycle continues – back behind bars they go even if they sincerely wanted a fresh start and a life free of crime. They need employers that are willing to give them a chance. Getting a job could turn their whole world around as they form a new identity – that of a hard worker and EX-crim.
A lot of employers are too scared to give prisoners a go. They worry they’ll steal, take drugs at work, scare the customers or just be ‘scary’ to be around. If they put worry to the side for a second they may see that prisoners are even better workers than their ‘normal’ ones. They NEED this job, they WANT this job – and they will work their butt off, committed to you. For a lot of people this is the “too hard basket” – they leave it to someone else to help them out. I think it would be hugely satisfying. Giving someone an opportunity to change their life and build self esteem. Through their work they can see that they are important, they are valuable and they are employable. I am sure they would be very loyal to that business/boss that gave them their ‘in’ to the real world. If there is the odd one that needs to be fired because they were naughty then so what – they won’t all be that way.
The Department of Corrections details the ‘Release to Work’ scheme here. It seems they manage the process well and give lots of support. They are also looking for instructors that can teach prisoners skills and trades.
Roading company Fulton Hogan took on 20 prisoners through the prison system’s Release to Work scheme to help build a new motorway through the Auckland suburb of Mt Roskill. The company says they have proved more reliable than many workers employed through labour hire firms, and six are still working on State Highway 20, months after leaving jail. One inmate said he used to lose sleep over no one wanting to hire him when he got out. He knew he’d have to turn back to crime if he couldn’t get work. Inmates’ earnings are held in trust until they leave prison, giving them a useful nest-egg to start their new lives.
Fulton Hogan is doing this country a huge service by helping our inmates and ex-prisoners. Businesses that take on such employees are reducing crime one person at a time – and get to see someone go from ‘naughty’ to absolutely flourishing. Maybe investigating the Release to Work scheme could be a great ‘to do’ for your business in 2009.