THE continued discrimination against former prisoners has raised worry among Lusaka residents who have called on Government through the Ministry of Home Affairs and other civil society organizations to ensure that they start creating more skills training centres to empower ex-prisoners.
The residents said that there was need for prisoners to have a place to start afresh once they had served their time in prison.
They felt that former prisoners were often stigmatized by society who tended to judge them on their past deeds.
Kennedy Kanjela,a concerned resident, said that discrimination against ex-convicts may force them to go back to crime.
Mr. Kanjela said that ex-convicts deserved to be given a chance so that they were able to better their lives and do something useful and positive for the benefit of society.
He said the creation of skills training centres would enable ex- prisoners to do productive work with their lives once released from prison. Mr. Kanjela said that it was important that ex-prisoners were regarded as people who could contribute to success of the country. He said every prisoner paid for their mistakes when they serve time in prison and were only released after the State was convinced that the person had changed and regretted their action.
Mr. Kanjela said that the tendency of segregating ex-prisoners just because they had a prison record should not be condoned because they were still human beings and had as much rights as every other person.
“We need to learn and embrace ex-prisoners. We need to show them that they can be better people for their families and for society; we need to support them through their journey of recovery even as they struggle to start from scratch,’’ he said.
And Royce Mbewe, another concerned resident, said that having more skills training centres would help ex-prisoners to empower themselves without depending on other people or fall back into their old bad habits.
Ms. Mbewe said prisons lacked recreation centres and other facilities where people were given an opportunity to re-start their lives.
-Millennium Radio 90.5FM