Job perspectives in prison

By Christian BlockLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

Défi-job has been offering prisoners a work contract and accompanying them in their professional integration for about 20 years. However, this model, which is probably unique in this form, is about more than just job placement.

When Gabriel (name changed by the editors) goes to work, all he has to do is cross the road and follow it downhill a short distance. From Monday to Friday, he works in a carpentry workshop, eight hours a day. He sands furniture, repaints it or cuts pieces of wood. What sounds ordinary is supposed to be just that. The rather unusual thing about it: Gabriel is still in prison, more precisely in the semi-open prison in Givenich.

This particularity is no longer a novelty, at least not by Luxembourg standards. Because the non-profit association défi-job has been doing exactly that for about 20 years: offering prisoners in semi-freedom (i.e. with permission to leave the semi-open prison for the duration of their working hours) an employment contract and at the same time accompanying them in their search for a job that is as permanent as possible. The overall goal is to create new perspectives through job placement and to reduce the risk of falling back into old patterns.

What one needs to know: Not every person coming out of prison needs help finding a job per se (see infobox) ‒ even though an entry in the criminal record can undoubtedly be a hurdle. "Our task is to accompany the people who are furthest away from the labour market", explains Sabine Garrot, the assistant director of défi-job. These are people who, if left to their own means, would have difficulty applying for jobs because they may have no education or an addiction problem.

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