All we need is a new start, say ex-convicts in RAK

All we need is a new start, say ex-convicts in RAK

Ras Al Khaimah - He applied for many jobs and attended interviews, but he hasn't been able to find a job.



Samar* was released from prison two years ago. The time the former drug addict and trafficker spent behind bars has reformed him and all he needs now is a stable job.
He applied for many jobs and attended interviews, but he hasn't been able to find a job. This despite the fact that he is qualified and has good work experience. Interviewers, it seems, aren't able to look beyond his criminal record.
"I am really sorry for what I did. I made a mistake, but I was young. All I need is a chance, and a new start," he says.
Samar, like many other former convicts, was promised a good job, but nothing has worked out so far.
Anas*, a former convict, tells Khaleej Times that employers aren't comfortable hiring those like him. "They may be right to an extent, but how are we supposed to survive?"
He has learnt his lesson, he says. "We have learned to be good citizens and behave well, but we need help to get back to society, and become productive members."
Ezra*, another former prisoner, says he was jailed for speeding that resulted in the death of a pedestrian. "Okay, I was wrong. I know I was not supposed to drive carelessly. But now, I need a job as I was fired after the incident. How do I support my family without a job?"
Another ex-convict, Anand*, has attended many interviews, which he now feels was "a waste of time". "Many employers told me that everything was fine and the interviews went great, but they needed some time and would get back to me. But they never did."
RAK Police to the rescue
It is not all bleak for former inmates. The Ras Al Khaimah Police have initiated a programme in collaboration with 13 government entities in the emirate for discussing all aspects of former prisoners.
Brigadier Ahmed Al Saloomi, director of punishment and correctional institutions, RAK Police, tells Khaleej Times they will support inmates after their release from jail.
"Unless inmates are supported in this critical post-imprisonment phase of their life, they might fall prey to crimes again," he says. The police, he says, will "try their best" to find jobs for former prisoners.
Former prisoners need to be well-trained and equipped for the labour market requirements, he says. "All prisoners already receive intensive training while serving their jail terms, but they need a follow-up training."
It is important to integrate this "vulnerable segment" back to society and help them be productive members, he stresses.
(*Names changed to protect identity)
ahmedshaaban@khaleejtimes.com


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