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Employ them!

Brathwaite wants private sector to give work to ex-cons

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.

Minister of Home Affairs Adriel Brathwaite

Minister of Home Affairs Adriel Brathwaite

“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.

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3 Responses to Employ them!

  1. Tony Webster October 30, 2014 at 6:07 am

    My father , were he yet alive, would take great interest in the ‘logic”, of the Hon. gentleman’s assertions, which are, in effect that employers practise “positive discrimination’, in hiring discharged guests of Dodds, in lieu of regular, normal, citizens who have not ‘screwed-up’. Positive discrimination has not only been practised elesewhere, (eg. the U.S.A) but has essentially failed, and also has been found to be un-constitutional. It is also, dare I say, gravely un-just and unfair, to young folks leaving school with a clean record, and understandably having high hopes of gaining employment, and making their way in life.
    This is not to say that we don’t see the root of our AG’s problem, and even, his dilemma: one needs to try to encourage departing Dodd’s inmates, of some hope of resuming a normal life, and of gaining employment, lest they resume thier carefree life of crime. The nub of the issue, is to do verything to give them useful and marketable skills, whilst incarcerated, and also to use such to their advantage, when released. The xample given of getting fine works of art into our art galleries etc, is ainedeed a good and valid one. I have seen some marvelous art-work, exhibited at NIFCA. But in-house employment is a horse of another colour.

    Timing is also against the AG: this is just about the worst time, for employers to carry additional financial burdens, and to also take the risk of it all ending in tears, if the Good Samaritan deed, ends in tears for the employer. I repeat: in addition to parents discharging thieir responsibilities of good parenting, we we have to invest our very best efforts, and our very scarce tax-dollars, in preparing “little adults” whilst these are in our primary and secondary schools. There must be consequences when we fall short: when parents fall short; when our curiculum falls short; when our educators fall short; when individuals fall short. And also…when “relevant authorities” fall short. Shifting blame onto another’s shoulders, and kicking the cans further down the road are not smart, or fair, or sustainable alternatives to sound national development policies.
    The axiomatic proof of my point is simple: when politicians fall short…they get a little “time-out”, during which to reflect …on “consequences”. Q.E.D.

  2. Arther Lashley October 30, 2014 at 6:22 am

    He He He He LOL.

    No wonder his voice was muffled,he was sitting and speaking ,he should STAND in future when he talks from that end.

    Wonder why he don’t suggest we just send them the keys and dem help dem selfs.

    Damned IDIOT.

  3. jr smith October 31, 2014 at 8:42 am

    Minister Braithwaite ,again you have the bull by the tail, you should firstly sort out the probems within our policing system, the persons who should combat crime and catch the criminals, then try and educate the failures, in our society within the prison system to behave like decent ,respectable human beings.


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