Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Advocacy group lobbies to remove barriers to reintegration of ex-convicts

Published:Monday | July 3, 2017 | 7:09 PM
A correctional officer stands guard at the gate of the St Catherine Adult Correctional Centre - one of Jamaica's largest prisons.

Executive Director of Stand Up Jamaica Maria Carla Gullotta says more work is needed to remove barriers restricting the reintegration of ex-prisoners into society.

A research conducted by Dr Ramona Biholar of the Faculty of Law at the University of the West Indies, has found that the reintegration of ex-convicts into society is being hampered in the areas of employment, family support, housing, institutional support and psycho-social support.

The research is part of Stand Up Jamaica's project to help ex-inmates.

According to the research, securing employment remains the greatest challenge for ex-inmates, with stigma being the main reason for lack of formal employment opportunities.

The European Union-sponsored research further noted that weak connections to family and friends creates instability in the lives of ex-inmates and leads to homelessness.

Ex-inmates also face difficulty in securing identification such as Taxpayer Registration Number, National Insurance Scheme (NIS) numbers, as well as to open bank accounts.

Participants explained that without a place to live they were unable to establish a proof of address, which is a key requirement to securing documentation.

It was also explained that ex-inmates who were in prison for a long time are unable to get a Justice of the Peace to sign application forms or secure references.

Gullotta says ex-inmates should be given a real chance to rebuild their lives.

 

Executive Director of Stand Up Jamaica Maria Carla Gullotta

She says her organisation is working with government and civil society to make reintegration much easier.

Stand-Up Jamaica recently completed a six-month internship programme for ex-mates and another programme is to be undertaken in September.