Rethinking employment strategies for prison inmates and parolees
Brazil currently registers the third largest prison population in the world. Brazil´s prisons are also bursting at the seams. There are over 726,700 prisoners with room for just 368,000. What is more, 40% of Brazil´s inmates have yet to be convicted. The profile is also startling: 95% are men, 64% are black, and just 15% had gainful employment before being incarcerated. In the state of Rio de Janeiro, these numbers are even more disconcerting: just 1.7% have a paying job.
In November, the Igarapé Institute released a new publication highlighting the gravity of the crisis. The report – “Na porta de saída, a entrada no trabalho: políticas para a expansão do emprego de presos e egressos no Rio de Janeiro” – was authored by Dandara Tinoco and Ana Paula Pellegrino. It underlines one of the most critical challenges facing Brazil’s prison population. With most inmates unable to find a new job, it is hardly a surprise that an estimated 70% soon return to jail within a year of leaving.
The report describes the significant social benefits of expanding work for prisoners and parolees. Indeed, society gains by breaking the cycles of violence and diminishing recidivism through work. What is more, the private sector benefits from economic gains and social responsibility. Finally, prisoners and parolees earn financial gains, professional experience, reduced sentences and support for social reintegration. Even so, the available policies to encourage the hiring of prisoners are still lamentably insufficient.