Prisoners encouraged to work, earn money

Prison inmates in Zimbabwe are encouraged to engage in income generating activities and provide for their families.

They earn wages for jobs done at private farms and other organisations while serving their sentences. The prisoners get 70 per cent of their earnings while 30 per cent goes to government. They are also permitted to open bank accounts.

“A prisoner can sign a bank withdrawal slip and send a relative to collect the money from the bank. If the bank demands presence of the holder of the bank account, authority would be granted for the inmate to visit the bank in company of a prison official,” said a prison official at ZPS stand at the Marondera agricultural show this week.

“Some inmates were actually purchasing furniture or paying their children’s school fees from cash earned while in incarceration,” he added.

Companies using prison labour include Border Timbers. Prisoners earn meaningful wages and some are understood to have been offered permanent employment at the companies once their jail terms are completed.

The Prison Fellowship Organisation assisted former convicts to find employment at companies where their skills were needed.

“Everything possible is done to ensure that inmates live as much of a normal life as is possible. Since prison life entails the convict to be reformed he should receive self-sustaining skills. These are essential since most crimes are committed by people desperate to make ends meet. Some were too lazy to earn a living and resorted to dishonesty,” said the officer.

He said living conditions in prison had improved tremendously following the formation of the inclusive government which resulted in the current upward turn of the economy.

Inmates were growing enough supplementary food and at least enjoying three balanced meals every day. The show stand exhibited a number of projects carried out in prison – including piggery, cattle breeding, carpentry, farming, art and sport.

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