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New hall for retraining, work opens in Czech prison

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Pribram, Central Bohemia, Oct 3 (CTK) – A new hall where prisoners can undergo retraining courses, for instance, in basic computer skills and cooking, and work was opened in the Pribram prison, with Justice Minister Robert Pelikan attending, on Tuesday.

The hall offers classrooms, a kitchen and a workshop, including a potter’s wheel and other tools and equipment.

At present, almost a half of the prisoners in Pribram are employed, which is below the national average of over 60 percent, Prison Service director Petr Dohnal said.

“We exceeded the magic 60-percent level of employed prisoners last week, for the first time in the Prison Service’s history,” Dohnal told reporters on Tuesday.

The number of employed prisoners has been considerably rising in the past two years.

One of the reasons is that Czech firms are desperately seeking workforce during the ongoing economic growth, Pelikan (ANO) said.

At present, some 9000 convicts have jobs, while a few years ago it was only some 6000, he said.

About 20,600 people are serving their prison sentences in the Czech Republic with a population of 10.5 million. However, a certain number of prisoners cannot be employed.

Along with training, the new hall in the Pribram prison offers new job opportunities.

“We are negotiating with two firms that are to employ convicts here,” prison director Jiri Purkart said.

They should mainly provide assembly and completion works.

The aim of the Pribram project is to educate and retrain convicts and thus facilitate their position in the labour market after their release.

The prison currently offers retraining courses in basic office computer programmes and kitchen attendant works. The prisoners who pass them will receive certificates from which it is not apparent that they were obtained in prison, Purkart said.

Some 110 inmates are to be retrained in the new hall yearly.

Its construction, in which prisoners participated as well, lasted eight months and cost 15 million crowns nine of which were covered by the Norway Grants.

More than 1000 men convicted of various crimes, from negligent offences to murders, serve their sentences in the Pribram prison.

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