Second chance for those still in prison

Second chance for those still in prison
An increasing number of inmates are securing jobs across various sectors even before their release.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

While serving her 15-month sentence for drug-related offences, Jane (not her real name), 28, was worried she would not be able to find a job upon her release.

"I feared that society would not accept former offenders like me, and people would look at me differently," she told The New Paper yesterday.

When she heard that restaurant chain Nando's was hiring, she sent in an application before her release and got a job as a service staff after a selection process that included an interview with the operations manager.

Jane, who started work at Nando's in February last year, is among an increasing number of inmates who are securing jobs across various sectors even before their release, said the Singapore Prison Service (SPS), in a release on annual prison figures yesterday.

Of the 2,061 inmates referred to the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (Score), 96 per cent got jobs while serving their sentences.

This has helped to ensure they do not go back to their old ways, said the SPS.

It was up slightly from 95 per cent in the previous year and in 2014.

According to the SPS, many inmates go through skills training aligned to the national Workforce Skills Qualifications framework to prepare them for jobs.

Potential employers conduct job interviews in prison and make hiring decisions on the spot.

There were 5,093 employers who worked with Score last year, a 7.3 per cent increase from the 4,745 in 2015.

The SPS said the increase in the number of employers willing to work with Score showed the community's growing acceptance of inmates and ex-offenders in the workplace.

Nando's Chickenland Singapore chief executive officer June Koh, 54, told TNP it was her company's belief that former offenders should be given a second chance to integrate back into the workforce and society.

Since Nando's started working with Score in 2012, the restaurant chain has hired over 240 former offenders, including Jane, who said she was happy with her new job.

MORE THAN MANPOWER

Score's senior assistant director of retention support, Mr Arputhasamy Nathan, told The Straits Times: "When we engage employers, we are very clear that we want them to come on board not just to provide the manpower needs.

"We are looking at suitable job vacancies, with employers hand-holding (the former offenders), from stabilising their work to performance management and career progression.

"If the former offender stays on the job, he can become more responsible towards himself and others.

"And that helps to lower recidivism."

rloh@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Feb 15, 2017.
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