JAMES TIMPSON believes that prisoners should be given genuine work and paid a pay.

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JAMES TIMPSON believes that prisoners should be given genuine work and paid a pay.

The Prime Minister has stated that he would want to see offenders in chain gangs wearing high-visibility jackets. I wasn’t the only one who told him that was a bad idea.

So it’s encouraging to see his deputy, Dominic Raab, propose a proposal that might work: putting inmates to work in real jobs for real pay.

That is exactly what we do at Timpson’s and have been doing for years. We’re not the only ones who think this way. Companies like Halfords believe that investing in training people while they are still in prison makes good business sense. We’re pleased to take folks on day release from jail to put their training into effect at our stores when government policy allows.

When people leave jail for good, we hire them as valued colleagues who are on par with the people they work with in every way.

In exchange, we get the opportunity to get to know them before hiring them on a permanent basis. We’ve discovered that those that are hired in this manner are among our most dedicated and conscientious employees.

I spend a lot of time in jails. I like the individuals I meet, and it doesn’t take long for me to realize that making the mistake that gets you there simply takes a second. Although prisons are necessary, they waste so much potential.

To be honest, it’s insane that we continue to imprison more civilians than practically any other European country. We’re simply hurting ourselves twice if we don’t do everything we can to help individuals find work and a place to live once they’ve been released.

As a result, I agree with Raab that convicts should be given genuine labor and paid for it. I can assure him that employment outside the prison walls, rather than within, work considerably better, and that there are plenty of prisoners who can be trusted to work on day release.

But he also has to know that it’s a success when the jobs provide training and skills that lead to a promising future. I guarantee that treating people like slaves – or talking about them in that manner – will fail.

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