Would you hire an ex convict?

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Would you ever hire a former prisoner?

The reason I want to ask you this today is because of a story I spotted online.

The UK’s leading employer of people with convictions says there can be huge benefits in hiring ex-prisoners.

The Timpson Group owns a wide range of different retail outlets. The companies under the group’s banner include cobblers, locksmiths, photo shops and dry cleaners.

In total, they have about 1,850 outlets spread out across the UK (as well as a small number in Ireland).

The group employs about 4,000 people across all of its outlets. What’s notable about the company is that 10% of these people are ex-convicts.

Just over 15 years ago, James Timpson was invited on a tour of a young offenders open prison in Warrington. He was impressed by his tour guide (a 19-year-old serving three years) and would later go on to hire him.

Following this, Timpson started visiting prisons across the north west of England aiming to recruit people to the business.

Initially, he had some issues admitting that he was recruiting some of the wrong people and that he paid off one guys drug dealer three times.

As he progressed in his recruitment, Timpson began to learn the right and wrong things to do. Today, the company employs over 400 people with convictions.

Timpson was the keynote speaker at a seminar in Dublin this week organised by the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) around the topic of hiring people with a conviction.

The IPRT campaigns for the rights of prisoners and for progressive reform of Irish penal policy.

The purpose of the seminar was to highlight the recruitment potential of people with previous convictions and to try to combat the stigma against hiring people who have committed crimes in the past.

Today I want to talk about that stigma and ask you if you would hire an ex-prisoner.

Have a listen to some of the comments online about this.

One person said: People make huge mistakes and pay dearly for it. They have time to reflect in prison. Everyone deserves a second chance. They could turn out to be the best employees.

However not everyone was as positive with a few people commenting on how they believes many prisoners do not want an honest life.

Have a listen to this comment: More hug a thug political correctness crap. Most prisoners are unemployable and don’t want a job. Crime is their job. Imagine hiring an armed robber to look after your finances – it’s laughable! How could you trust the person?

So clearly there is still a stigma in Ireland around the issue and many people would not hire an ex-con – would you?

Do all prisoners deserve a second chance at life when they leave prison?

Or do they lose the right to a second chance when they commit crimes?

I want to know what you think –

So – do all prisoners deserve a second chance?

Remember you can find more stories on the Niall Boylan Facebook and Twitter pages and remember #IrelandTalks4fm

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