July 28, 2021

Housing, health care, support of family and friends are key factors for successful rehabilitation of ex-convicts. Among them stands out employment.

To get insight in opinion of employers on hiring ex-convicts, the project „Improving capacities of Prison Administration in the Area of Alternative Sanctions, Post Penal Care and Healthcare“ financed by the European Union (EU), carried out a survey among owners of small and medium enterprises throughout Serbia.  

team of experts working at the Institute for criminological and sociological researches was filled out by a total of 120 business owners working in the field of commerce, production and hospitality. Even tough 24% of the total number of respondents have employed a former convict, what is encouraging is that 57% of questioned employers stated that previous working experience and quality of work is what would affect their decision to hire an ex-convict, while 55% would consider hiring an ex-convict provided they get information on the behaviour while serving sentence.

Among 17 employers who have had a positive experience in hiring offenders is an owner of a small firm in Sombor. She pointed out that her experience with working with offenders was- perfect! Furthermore, she described employed offenders as very motivated, dedicated employees who showed higher level of loyalty towards the employer than other employees and the fact that the company employs ex-offenders did not have negative impact neither on clients nor colleagues.  

However, almost all participants in the survey said that the decision on hiring an ex-offender would depend on the criminal offence whey had been convicted of. In that sense, the employers would not hire people convicted of sexual and other violent crimes, as well as re-offenders.

In conclusion of this survey, the fact that stands out is that ex-convicts are a vulnerable group when it comes to the employment, even though current regulations do not recognize them as such. Statistics of some European countries show that the highest rate of returning to criminal activities (recidivism) happens within first months upon release, especially if released is unable to provide for themselves. This goes to show how important the timely re-socialization is for their successful rehabilitation. Appropriate post-penal care and de-stigmatization of people who served their sentence are the key elements for diverting them from criminal ways, which to a large degree affects safety of the entire community. And as an entrepreneur from Donji Milanovac said: „Many persons used to work in my enterprise and only two of them were offenders. That is not too much. Everybody deserves a chance”.