Break the image of ‘second prison’: Usamate

Former inmate Semi Matalau (right) meets Correction's officer Tui Saladoka during the Yellow Ribbon ex-prisoner's recruitment at the ANZ Stadium on Friday, October 19, 2018. Picture: RAMA

“WE must break the image of the ‘second prison’ that inmates are subjected to – society and their homes.”

These were the sentiments echoed by Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations Jone Usamate while officiating at the Yellow Ribbon Employment Expo held at the ANZ Corporate Box in Suva on Friday.

“We must break the stigma so that inmates are fully welcomed back into their homes and communities, and successfully reintegrated back into society,” Mr Usamate said.

“It is up to you and I to bring this change. The Fiji Corrections Service cannot do this alone.”

Mr Usamate said if we looked at the history of recidivism or repeat offenders in Fiji in the last 10 years, noted that in 2008 the rate was 39 per cent.

“In the following year, 2009, this dropped to 7.9 per cent and fluctuated between 7 per cent and 3 per cent, and recently from 2017 to 2018 it has dramatically dropped to 1.5 per cent.

“I understand that the reduction in repeat offenders was due to the introduction of new orders, adoption of new rehabilitation framework and most importantly, strengthening of community engagement program through the inaugural launch of the Yellow Ribbon Project in 2008.”

Mr Usamate said acceptance though was not enough because “we need to ensure that they are able to live with us and become law abiding citizens”.

The expo saw representatives from various business houses meet prisoners who were there with their curriculum vitae and giving the prisoners hope of a possibility of securing a job when they are released.