Land Transport Authority (LTA) has reportedly declined to renew the vocational driver’s license of an ex-offender, leaving him without the means to earn an adequate livelihood.
The ex-offender, a 46-year-old single father called Michael, was released from prison a few months ago after being jailed for 6 months for a white-collar crime. He told activist Gilbert Goh of transitioning.org that he took to driving Grab vehicles and was drawing a good income until LTA did not renew his vocational license allegedly due to his jail sentence.
Goh wrote in an article today that Michael’s “only means of earning a proper income was dashed with that second sentencing by LTA even though he has served his jail term.”
Known for championing causes related to the unemployed and underemployed in Singapore, Goh visited Michael in his sparse apartment to lend a listening ear after the ex-offender reached out to the activist. Revealing that his savings have dipped to a dangerously low level, Michael confided in Goh:
“The yellow ribbon project seems like a joke now. I have served my time and now I am given a second sentencing when LTA didn’t renew my driving license.”
In his article, Goh stressed that re-employment is crucial to keep ex-offender from committing crimes again. He added that statistics show that only a marginal percentage of employers employ ex-offenders:
“Many people have returned to crime when they couldn’t find any suitable job and there is the solace that at least once they are back in prison they have proper food and shelter but that is not what we want for rehabilitation. Without a proper job, many offenders recommit and those who have families find it difficult to face their wife and kids if they continue to laze around at home long after release.
“A 2005 survey by the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises found that while 34 per cent of companies were willing to hire former convicts, only 4 per cent actually did. Many could only manage with very manual work such as moving home, cleaning or drivers.”
Michael is presently struggling to manage bills for basic necessities like water and electricity. Before leaving his apartment, Goh gave Michael a small donation for him to pay his power bill. Goh concluded:
“He has committed a crime, paid for it in prison but let us not re-sentence him again after his release…that will be a severe debilitating blow to all ex-offenders.”
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