Petr Dubinsky

Businesses Turn to Prison Labor for Tough to Fill Jobs

Czech prisoners are losers who are lying on their beds and watching television. According to prison experts, that’s a myth that’s long gone. Currently, 9,000 out of a total of 20,300 are employed, their employment rate has increased by eight percent this year compared to last year. Business demand for cheap work is high. But it can not always be accommodated.


“Most prisoners are trying to get a job because it’s good. They have pocket money, pay alimony, debts, or financially help families. There is little to the workplace. Rather, it is a problem that not all prisoners can be hired, ” Peter Kučerová, a prison spokesperson, said.


According to Kučerová, only 14,850 people are employed from the total number of convicted prisoners. Other work does not allow, for example, inclusion in the most severe departments for punishment or their health. The Prison Service now co-operates with about 300 companies employing convicts. The gross monthly income of each of them ranges from 4500 to 9500 crowns, with prisons collecting 1500 crowns for accommodation and meals per month.


From April, the monthly income of a working prisoner should be over 5500 crowns. Some prisoners work as bakers or chefs in private companies, where they receive daily leave as a job after receiving permission from the prison management.
Two auxiliary chefs from the prisoners are newly employed, for example, by the Masaryk University in Brno, who has been unable to find anyone for these jobs.


Other prisoners right in the halls of the correction facilities control electrical components or mount simple products. The newest workshop in the republic, which employs the ten convicts, is in the correctional facility in Horní Slavkov, Sokolovsko. Prisoners cut cables, dismantle the covers and drift the engines.


In Kurim in Brno, an old workshop, in which 60 people now work, should be demolished next year. A new hall will be created, so it will be possible to employ 20 more prisoners. However, it is not possible to expand workshops in any prison, even if the interest of companies is large.


While, for example, in Jirice, Nymburk, they are working in a prison farm, in Kuřim they are employed in the Prefa panel. “We are also used to paint fences, mowing grass and maintaining urban property. We even had a clever prisoner from the prison, who made furniture, “said Kurzim Mayor Drago Sukalovský (Mayors for South Moravia). Brno prisoners work in a poultry house in Modřice, in a bakery and in several filling stations.


According to many prisoner educators, convictions are well aware that it is worthwhile doing their best work, not just because of money. If the employer is happy with them, he will offer them their job even after their release, so the return to normal life from the world beyond the grids is easier.