herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

Over 1,200 prisoners find jobs thanks to justice group

Paddy Richardson, CEO IASIO and Minister for Justice and Equality, Ms. Frances Fitzgerald TD
Paddy Richardson, CEO IASIO and Minister for Justice and Equality, Ms. Frances Fitzgerald TD

ALMOST 1,200 prisoners were assisted in finding employment in Ireland by a national criminal justice group.

The Irish Association for the Social Integration of Offenders (IASIO) said that communities must play their part in offender reintegration.

Since 2000, over 21,000 offenders have engaged with the service.

IASIO has so far successfully assisted more than 14,000 offenders to access education, training, employment and resettlement support - 1,200 of these have found a job within the last year.

CHALLENGES

CEO Paddy Richardson said that their clients face enormous challenges once they are freed, including addiction, training deficits and prejudice.

"Most of the people referred to us come from the most disadvantaged communities in the country," he said.

"It is true that they have committed a crime and come to us with a question mark over them as to what they might or might not do in the future.

"Our aim is to foster a belief that change is possible, work with them to imagine what that might look like and then help organise the practical supports to effect that change.

"It depends on everyone taking some level of responsibility - local government and state services have an obvious part, as do the media in terms of properly portraying the issues," he added.

"Everyone has a part to play in creating successful outcomes for our clients which ultimately helps to create safer communities for all of our citizens."

Almost 9pc of IASIO's clients are female and a total of 1,657 former prisoners received resettlement interventions leading to greater stability on release.

The aim of IASIO is to promote an offender's desistance from crime through the identification of real alternatives and necessary supports.

The service covers every prison in Ireland.

To carry out this work, IASIO employs 20 Training & Employment officers (TEOs) and three Resettlement Support Workers (RSWs).

It operates three front-line Services - the Linkage Service, The Gate Service, and the Resettlement Service - that are funded by the Probation Service and Irish Prison Service.

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