FAR reaching changes to the Prison Act will see prisoners being employed and paid in a move that will assist them to pick up the pieces when they leave jail.
ZPCS director legal services Senior Assistant Commissioner Spetosomusa Chinobva yesterday said the employment of prisoners is one of the major issues in the proposed Prisons and Correctional Services Bill.
She said all along they had been working on the rehabilitation of offenders but it was not legislated for, but the new Bill would address that.
“This will see inmates go and perform work and they will be remunerated for that work so that’s one of the major changes the Bill seeks to bring,” said Snr Asst Comm Chinobva.
The proposed Bill has also raised hopes of release to prisoners serving life sentences as it makes them eligible for parole in a historic move that reverses their condemnation for life.
The reforms are part of the Government’s efforts to realign the country’s laws with the Constitution.
On the issue of employment of inmates, Section 129 of the Bill empowers the Commissioner General of Prisons to enter into contracts for prisoners to do paid work.
“The Commissioner General may enter into a contract with any institution, person or body or persons for the employment and training of inmates who are under a sentence of imprisonment upon such terms and such conditions as may be determined, generally or specifically by the Commissioner General,” reads part of the Bill.
“For the purpose of encouraging inmates to participate in rehabilitation activities and work offered by the Service or providing financial assistance to inmates to facilitate their re-integration into society the Commissioner General may authorise the payment of gratuities to inmates.
“The gratuity referred shall be paid to inmates according to such conditions and such rates as the Commissioner General may from time to time determine”.
The Bill says all inmates may be made to work within or outside the precincts of any prison or correctional facility in any work or activity approved by the Ministry responsible for Prisons and Correctional Services.
It states that inmates deemed unfit to do any duties by a medical officer shall not be required to perform any work but may be given light work.
It says female inmates cannot be employed outside a prison or correctional facility except on the recommendation of a medical officer.-Statemedia