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Prison Journalism: Jobs for inmates in prison

01/03/2024

Prison Journalism: Jobs for inmates in prisonDean Mashimbwe, a Zimbabwean migrant residing in Cape Town, was incarcerated at Pollsmoor Correctional Centre from 2016 until 2017.

by Dean Mashimbwe

01-03-2024 08:56

in Prison Journalism

Prison. Image via unsplash

In most correctional services in prison, inmates are given jobs as soon as they see the parole board. During the time I was incarcerated in Pollsmoor, most inmates would do cooking, cleaning, clerical work, and maintenance chores. This helped prisoners to reduce boredom and stress rather than being locked up all day.

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How I Got a Job in Prison During the first days of my incarceration, I was so depressed I would spend the whole day sleeping until one day a certain female warden visited our section looking for inmates who could help her to clean at the visit section. I was one of the people who were selected with other 4, unfortunately, I was the only one who was permanently selected. That warden went straight to the parole board and told them she wanted me to be classified so that I could be monthly paid. So, I started working as a visit cleaner, getting R30 a month. As someone who wasn't getting visits, this money helped me a lot to get toiletries and other basic commodities. This job also made me to be trusted even by the wardens. Even the members of the number gang started to like me as I was doing their illegal work of transporting their things without the wardens knowing. As someone who was always outside than other inmates, this made me to be taught how to speak the number in exchange for the things I was getting from my visit work. Even when the inmates were distributed in other jails around Western Cape, I was one of the people who were left at Pollsmoor Correctional Service because of my job.

Reintegration in Society There are other inmates who have been in prison for a long time, let's say for example an inmate who has been in jail for 25 years and he is about to be released. These inmates are allowed to work outside of prison being monitored by the Correctional officers. I think this helps a lot especially to the society to easily accept the inmates back into the society, forgiving him without judging him or her. This also helps prisoners to gain skills so that when they get released, they will not struggle to get jobs because the prison also offers inmates the opportunity to study while they are serving their sentence.

Advantages of Giving Work to Inmates Giving work to inmates within the prison has a lot of benefits to the Prison Management which includes keeping inmates busy to reduce the performance of gangsterism and violence. It also means that controlling inmates would be easy for them as they create a good relationship with the wardens. This also helps the physical and mental well-being of the inmates as they are always kept busy. Even the inmates will encourage each other; this reduces the aggressiveness within the inmates. Which inmates are likely to be given jobs in prison.

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In Pollsmoor, inmates who are likely to be given jobs are those inmates who are at minimum and medium security level. These offenders are considered as low risk or non-violent and are entitled to greater privileges. Only a few inmates who are at maximum security level of the Prison are given jobs. The only common task inmates from maximum security which is most likely to be given is only a few selected inmates which can help to give food to other inmates. Mostly inmates who are given jobs in prison are sentenced offenders. Mostly inmates who are at maximum prison are inmates who have serious offences such as murder, armed robbery etc., and these inmates are mostly on trial.

Hours Inmates Required to Work In Pollsmoor, prisoners work one hour to two hours a day depending on the type of a job like sweeping a small, assigned patch in the yard, or emptying three particular garbage bags at a specific time, or mopping the restrooms.

When I was working at the Visit Section I used to work for about 3 hours from 8 till 12.00.

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There are also the jobs that keep the prison functioning in Pollsmoor; all the plumbing, carpentry, electrical work, roofing, and maintenance is done by inmates. The cooking is also done by inmates, especially those with longer sentences; these ones are given long working hours. Besides jobs provided by the prison to inmates, also free education, studies are provided to all sentenced juveniles and also to adult learners. When I was in prison, one of my friends completed his grade 12; his intentions were to pursue his studies and get a degree when he comes out of prison.

In conclusion, I can say all this has helped inmates to rehabilitate themselves and get the chance to revisit what they did wrong in the past. Most of the inmates who have done their education in prison are more likely to succeed when they get out of prison.

DISCLAIMER: Submission published as received

Should you wish to assist in the rehabilitation of former inmates and help put money into the pockets of those who have struggled to earn a living during and after incarceration, click HERE

RESTORE is an NGO based in Cape Town, South Africa, providing inmates at Pollsmoor Prison with restorative justice opportunities.

If you have any questions you would like to ask our prison journalists, WhatsApp us on 060 011 0211.

Do you have contact with a prison inmate who would like to write for The South African website? If so, send an email to info@thesouthafrican.com or a WhatsApp to 060 011 0211.

You can also follow @TheSAnews on Twitter and The South African on Facebook to get the latest prison journalism articles.

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