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