25/06/2018 – Jamaica Gleaner. / THE EDITOR, Sir
Stand Up for Jamaica has taken note of proposals announced by Transport and Mining Minister Robert Montague in regards to barring ex-inmates from participating in the public transportation system.
While we understand the concerns for safety that would have influenced such a proposal, we feel compelled to point out that barring ex-inmates from one of the few occupations accessible to them, after their release from prison, will only serve to derail their rehabilitation and successful re-entry into the society as productive citizens.
Gainful employment has been proven to act as the one of the most potent alternatives to a life of crime and violence. Many inmates would not have ended up in prison were they provided with the opportunity to earn an honest bread.
If they struggled to join the labour market before incarceration, any hope that they can become employed is utterly obliterated when they are released because of the stigma and discrimination attached to imprisonment.
Life of crime
Ultimately, inmates become trapped in a cycle whereby the inability to gain employment pushes them into a life of crime and violence, the end result of which is imprisonment. Once they serve time and are released, the cycle begins all over again.
With a 30 per cent recidivism rate that continues to increase, self-employment through the ownership and operation of public passenger vehicles is one of the last hopes that ex-inmates have of being gainfully employed so that they do not sink back into a life of crime.
We therefore urge the minister to rethink his proposal to bar them from participating in the public transport business, as it may be adding fuel to the fire of the spiralling crime problem that we continue to face in Jamaica.
Stand Up for Jamaica