Friday 9 December 2016

Rehabilitation group calls for communities to play a part in re-integrating former prisoners

David Kearns

Published 24/09/2015 | 09:11

More than 14,000 former inmates have been helped by the group to get a place on training and education programmes
More than 14,000 former inmates have been helped by the group to get a place on training and education programmes

Former prisoners find it hard to re-integrate into their local communities as many struggle to get work, according to a new report.

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The Irish Association for the Social Integration of Offenders said misconceptions were often to blame for prisoners finding it difficult to secure employment.

The group is calling for local communities to play a part in the rehabilitation of offenders.

"People who are going for employment must declare, if asked, if they have a criminal record and that is part of the problem," CEO Paddy Richardson told Newstalk Breakfast:

"And once they do that and say 'yes, I have a criminal record, but I have put that behind me', normally they are told 'well thank you very much, we'll be in touch' and that's the last of it."

The community-based organisation said it had secured employment for over 1,200 former inmates last year.

In its annual report, it noted that 2,200 former prisoners had been helped get a place in training and education programmes between 2013 and 2014, while over 1,000 had needed to be resettle after leaving prison.

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald will launch the report later this morning.

Of those the association worked with, more than a fifth - the largest category - were in prison for drugs offences, followed by those convicted of attempted murder and assault, burglars and robbers, as well as those convicted of homicide and sexual offences.

The report reveals that the organisation has successfully assisted over 14,000 offenders to gain education, training, employment and resettlement support since each of the services began in 2000.

The group has said more needed to be done to stabilise people once released from prison with the aim of reducing re-offending.

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