Prague, Jan 31 (CTK) – More and more Czech firms seek new employees among prisoners, daily Lidove noviny (LN) wrote on Tuesday.

While in the past, the prisons had problems to find work for their inmates, now the situation has changed and demand for such labour force has been rising.

At present, Czech prisons register 300 contracts on employment signed with firms, LN writes.

More than 7,800 convicts in Czech prisons work, which is some 52 percent of the 15,000 who are employable. There are more than 20,600 prisoners in total, but some of them are old or sick and cannot work, according to the Prison Service’s data.

“Last year, we succeeded in employing 1,192 people more than the year before,” Prison Service spokeswoman Petra Kucerova told the paper.

A rising employment of prisoners is also a priority of the Justice Ministry, LN writes.

“Work habits are the most efficient tool to reduce repeat crime on the basis of our and foreign experience,” Justice Ministry spokeswoman Tereza Schejbalova said.

Prisoners most often find work in food-processing, construction, textile and automotive industries and they also help clean public areas and make toys, LN writes.

Only those convicted of less serious crimes are allowed to work outside the prison, the others can work only inside, LN writes.

Prisoners do mostly unqualified manual work and they earn some 4,500 crowns a month on average. The employer’s total costs of such an employee are around 10,000 crowns.

Firms have positive experience with the employment of prisoners and some of them have asked to extend the contracts on their employment, Schejbalova said.

Convicts make up a suitable labour force for several reasons. They really want to work and their performance is good, Irena Filarova Nucova, from a human recruitment agency, told LN.

Prisoners are sufficiently motivated as they can spend part of the day outside the prison and earn some money.

One part of their remuneration is used to repay their debts from criminal activities, the other goes to food and accommodation in prison, while the rest is saved and the prisoners get the money when they are released, LN writes.

Both employers and their regular employees must observe certain rules if prisoners work there. Firms must secure the prisoners’ transport to and from work and inform the police about their whereabouts. They should not change the contracted place of work without letting the prison know about such a change, LN adds.

Regular employees must be instructed how to treat prisoners at work. They must not lend them cell phones and bring them alcohol, for instance. If employees violate these rules, they might even face prosecution. If convicts do so, they are laid off immediately, Filarova Nucova said.