Prison Ministry of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra and Muskaan NGO for prisoners in Delhi say, there are approximately 45 percent of former prisoners, who came under there shelter did not get any jobs and the rest is unreported. They are facing a lot of difficulties in getting employed due to their background. Krishnamurti, a former prisoner, been out of jail for more than a year now, is still jobless. This caused a great impact in his life. he said, “I was in jail for 1 year. I do not work anything at present. I have tried to apply in many places but I am not getting any work at all after coming out of prison. I am still looking for more vacancies. As I am poor and have no job, I am not being able to afford any living for my family. I am not being able to pay fees for my child’s education, house rent and electricity bill. It is becoming very difficult to earn each day’s bread and butter. There are a few more former prisoners I know, are struggling to get a job. If I get a chance I can show that I have changed. I am not asking for more but just a decent employment.”
Recruiters say they fear in considering these former prisoners as their employee. They do not prefer hiring them due to their background. Viveck Singh an HR of a company named Madhav Enterprices said he will never consider a former prisoner an employee of his company as it is a risk. he said, ” I will think about the company first. Having a criminal background, it will be very difficult for me to hire them because I cannot trust them very easily. I have number of responsibilities on my shoulders. For the company and worker’s sake, I will have to reject him. Because of one person I will not take risk for the whole company.”
It is not only the preamble that has stated one’s right to equality but also is article 16, which says that an ex convict in India does indeed have fundamental rights guaranteed. If they are discriminated against equal opportunity, he/she may seek justice for the same under the court of law. Human right activists say that these prisoners have always been looked at with some amount of suspicion but what the society forgets is they put these criminals in jail not to autisize them but to help them reform. That is the main aim of the prison system. A human right activist Ms. Sanam said, “It is a fact that convicts in India are looked at with a certain amount of suspicion. They would not be employed easily, and I feel the system fails in not giving them either vocational training or reference or having a job centre. If these three things existed there would be better rehabilitation of prisoners and at the end of the day, repeat offenders would be much less. Society needs to accept that these criminals need to be given a second chance. This is because a penal code is drafted for every crime there is a period of imprisonment specified. So once, the imprisonment is served that means they have done their time. If we don’t give them chance to rehabilitate, integrate and work in society they will go out and commit more crimes. This is how they become seasonal criminals.”
A criminal psychologist Sonali Khanna said that the people who comes out of jails do struggle a lot to get a job. “One should not be afraid to hire them as these ex convicts have come out of prison after going through a rigorous counseling sessions. We do not send anybody out of prison on the basis of their punishment tenure. We only send them out of prison when we think they are fit to work psychologically and when he/she feels guilty and realizes their mistakes on whatever crime they have committed.”
According to few human right activists and NGO’s, if the ex-convicts are employed they can minimize recidivism and there will be less people to return to crime. Criminal psychologists say that one of the reasons for not getting jobs is also that there are very few people who get opportunities to get relevant work experience while in prison.