They may have served several years behind bars, but Minister of Home Affairs Adriel Brathwaite said today a prison record is no reason why former inmates of Dodds, who have completed their prison terms, should be discriminated against in the local job market.
Today, he made a special appeal to the island’s business sector to give these ex-convicts a fair shot at employment.
Brathwaite, who is also Attorney General, issued the call for former prisoners to given a fair break as he addressed the monthly business luncheon of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) at Hilton Barbados this afternoon.
While acknowledging that the business sector was currently facing financial challenges, he was adamant that job seekers should not be turned away simply because they spent time at Her Majesty’s pleasure.
“I want to encourage you [business leaders] where possible to employ ex-offenders and certainly not to discriminate against them; not to turn them away because they spent some time at Dodds,” Brathwaite said.
“I want to encourage you where possible . . . you can use their services, that you do so . . . ; where you can use their products, that you do so,” he added.
The Minister of Home Affairs further appealed to private sector heads to give of their time to the prisoners and to contribute financially to programmes at Dodds Prisons.
“I have a lovely calendar on my desk, a 2015 calendar, which shows the art of prisoners,” Brathwaite said. He also urged the BCCI to have a painting from the St Philip penal institution every month that has been sponsored by one of your [BCCI members.
“This is the kind of thing that I want to encourage you, where possible, notwithstanding your fiscal challenges,” he added.
In response, BCCI president Tracey Shuffler told Barbados TODAY the Chamber could not enforce such a position across the board.
She said it would depend on the policy of each company, and the sensitivity of its operations. She also said it would depend on the type of offence the ex-con had committed.
However, the Attorney General, who had also reported to the gathering that there has been a decline in crime so far this year, urged the business sector to take a more holistic approach to crime and security in general.
“So you don’t want to have cameras for the sake of ensuring that your employees do what they are supposed to be doing, or for addressing shoplifters, but [have] cameras on Swan Street, so that if I go into Abed’s that indeed I feel safe when I enter the premises.”
Brathwaite acknowledged that Scotia Bank would be spearheading a move to assist the Government in illuminating the capital Bridgetown in the coming months, and he encouraged other the private sector companies to join with the Ministry of Transport and Works and the BCCI to see how Bridgetown could be transformed at night.
“I like to go into Bridgetown at night. I like the shopping experience, but there are some areas where you traverse, in particular when you go into your car, that indeed, even at six feet one and a half [in height], I don’t feel that I should walk there by myself –– depending on what time of the night.
“I want to signal my support for this initiative and encourage you to see how best we can do it. It’s in your interest and indeed in the interest of all Barbadians,” Brathwaite added.
ALSO If you sign up for Barbados Today before independence you could WIN a 2014 Honda City! Go here for full details http://bit.ly/1oCHnej.