Majority of prisoners still unemployed

7/3/2003 | 12:00 AM

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TALLINN, 3 July 2003 - The SAO audited the employment of prisoners and found that the achieved results in prisoner employment have been poor in recent years. The reasons for this include mainly unspecified aims, unorganised financing, and deficient reporting between Estonian Prison Industry Ltd. and the Ministry of Justice.

The audit was based on the premise that engaging a prisoner in useful and meaningful work increases the probability that when released from prison he or she becomes a law-abiding citizen. Through useful and meaningful work a prisoner acquires work skills and habits which help him or her to find employment after release. In addition, the Imprisonment Act stipulates that prisoners should be employed. However, despite the requirement in the Act, the state had no overview how the task has been fulfilled. The audit results revealed that the employment of prisoners was on the average only 30% from 1996 to 2001 with the state spending from 3.5 up to 8 million kroons a year.

The SAO recommended the Minister of Justice determine what kind of effect the state wants to achieve through prisoner employment. One possible aim is earning profit to the state, thereby compensating for the costs of incarceration and damage caused by the crime committed; another is giving the prisoners qualification and work experience that would simplify finding work and socialisation after release.

Since 2001, it is the state-owned Estonian Prison Industry Ltd. that deals with prisoner employment, which is financed from the state budget. According to the assessment of the SAO, the financing of Estonian Prison Industry Ltd. from the state budget is justified only if it performs a significant social role by engaging and training prisoners that have no qualification or work habits, and does not restrict itself to profit-oriented work.

In order to improve the results, the SAO proposed that the Minister of Justice should ask Estonian Prison Industry Ltd. to submit much more precise information on its activities than previously. Besides regular financial reporting, this should include detailed information on the costs as well as performance reporting. Only such sufficient information would enable the Ministry to conduct financial analysis and evaluate also the meaningfulness, usefulness, and effect of the work on prisoners besides considering the number of new jobs created.

The Minister of Justice agreed to all the proposals of the SAO.


Sven Soiver
Press Representative of State Audit Office
Telephone: (372) 640 0787
GSM: (372) 53 414464
E-mail: Sven.Soiver@riigikontroll.ee

  • Posted: 7/3/2003 12:00 AM
  • Last Update: 10/2/2015 5:24 PM
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