Most 'tagged' offenders are quick to find work

About 80% of criminals with electronic tagging have found work within two weeks of being freed from prison, says the State Probation Service.

One of them is Aleksandrs, who has been working at a furniture shop for the past four months. He goes to work with a monitor tied around his ankle. He'll have to wear it for eight more months.

"At the age of 34.. I was involved in an armed robbery. People were wounded, and as a result I was sentenced to 11 years in prison. I spent seven years and nine months behind bars, and after that there was a possibility for being freed," Aleksandrs told Latvian Radio.

He heard about electronic tagging after it was introduced in Latvia in mid-2015. Aleksandrs was reluctant to apply at first, as he was afraid he'd be refused due to having no place to live outside prison. However, after meeting the head of the Lediņi NGO, where inmates are offered both shelter and food when they're freed, Aleksandrs changed his mind.

"I am doing paid work. It was all found through Dāvids Sīlis.. for my part, I help him do renovation at the [Lediņi] center. There are two [people released on parole] here currently, and we're making a place to stay for a few other people," said Aleksandrs.

Aleksandrs has to plan his time very strictly, and each moment he spends outside home during a given week has to be planned beforehand. That includes the weekends, which he often spends with his daughter.

Officials at the probation service are pleasantly surprised that so many people are able to find work after leaving prison.

"It's the best of the indices among people who've been released on parole," said Mihails Papsujevičs, head of the State Probation Service.

A 2016 survey the service carried out says that about 50% of employers are prepared to hire people released on probation and wearing electronic tags. Others fear they might lack the necessary qualifications. 

Meanwhile Papsujevičs says that the people released on parole joke that they "are the best employees during the post-festival season, as we'll be there on time and sober". This refers to the fact that people on probation cannot use any addictive substances. 

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