Justice Minister Claire Sugden has told a business event at Hydebank Wood College that finding employment for prisoners after release is a major contributor to reducing re-offending and building a safer Northern Ireland.
On the second day of Prisons Week 2016, Minister Sugden said: “My most important role as Justice Minister is to build a safer community in Northern Ireland. That must be at the core of everything we do. The business community has an important role to play in that and it is no exaggeration to say that having a job changes lives.
“If we are genuine about reducing re-offending and building a safer Northern Ireland then we need to work together to find ways of increasing job opportunities for offenders.”
A number of serving prisoners also attended the event and the Minister challenged them to play a positive role in their communities when they are released.
Minister Sugden said: “Being in prison does not have to define who you are or what you will do in the future. This is an opportunity to engage with businesses and to highlight what you have to offer them. Seize that opportunity and rebuild your lives for yourselves and for your families. This is your chance to play a positive role in your community.”