Life Prisoners Given Paid Jobs Under New Program

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LAUTOKA – A landmark agreement between an electrical firm and the Fiji Corrections Service will see a life-term inmate engage in gainful employment while still serving his sentence at the Natabua Correctional Facility in Lautoka.

Asaeli Lesu, a 43-year-old auto electrician and mechanic by trade, begins work today at P. Kumar Electrical Services Limited. He will be escorted to the Lautoka firm every morning from Monday to Friday where he will work from 8am to 4.30pm before being escorted back to Natabua in the afternoon. Although this is a first for the Western Division, the program has been in place in Suva and Labasa for over a year and has so far been “absolutely successful” said FCS authorities.

Under the revolutionary program, prisoners work for up to six months at a time and receive salaries which are kept by prison authorities and given to inmates like Lesu upon their release.

Lesu said he looked forward to working outside prison and expanding his skills and knowledge as he prepared for reintegration into civil society. He also professed a deep sense of regret for past wrongdoings and maintained a strong commitment to the care of his family once he got out.

“I thank God, the FCS and Pramod Kumar (P. Kumar director) for this opportunity. This is my trade and it is something I was doing before I took the wrong turn and ended up in prison so it is only natural that I go back into it. I have turned over a new leaf and want to contribute to society and hopefully go back to my family when I have done my time because I have a grandson now. He was born while I was incarcerated and I look forward to holding him in my arms and taking care of my family,” he said.

Pramod Kumar said while he welcomed Lesu with open arms into his firm, he said he had informed the Natabua inmate that he would not receive special treatment.