Hong Kong News

Nonpartisan, Noncommercial, unconstrained.
Monday, Jul 22, 2024

The best thing we can give ex-offenders is worthwhile employment

The best thing we can give ex-offenders is worthwhile employment

Those jailed for their roles in the 2019 protests will understandably face tremendous difficulties in finding employment upon release. Yet if our city is to heal past wounds, we must help ex-offenders become productive members of society again, and this is where employers play a crucial role.

Everyone deserves a second chance. Or do they? It is said that “to err is human, to forgive divine”.

Anyone living in Hong Kong in 2019 will remember the euphemistically titled “social unrest” and chaotic scenes from violent protests. About 3,000 protesters are facing trial or undergoing hearings, while 6,000 others are still waiting for their cases to be processed by police and have yet to be charged.

Because of delays and adjournment of judicial proceedings wrought by the pandemic, and the time required to investigate and amass evidence, many cases are still in limbo. I can understand how this might be disconcerting, though the judicial system’s “due process” does take considerable time.

Some people believe that the protesters should be held accountable for devolving the city into chaos and that they don’t necessarily deserve second chances. Others argue that the protesters, and especially the young, should be treated leniently and given second chances.

If the justice system were to treat the young protesters leniently, then what about the father who steals to feed his family? Would the elderly who commit crimes deserve the same consideration? Where does one draw the line for leniency?

The good thing about a rules-based society with rule of law is that the criminal justice system is supposed to be “blind”. Lady Justice’s blindfold means that rules are applied uniformly and justice is meted out objectively – without fear or favour – regardless of a person’s identity and social standing.

As a city though, how do we heal the rift in the fabric of our society and move on as a community? We need to find a way to, if not welcome, at least reintegrate former protesters and ex-offenders into our midst. One of the most effective ways to do this is through employment.

According to Harvard Business Review, studies show that employment is the single most important factor in reducing recidivism, or the tendency of a convicted criminal to reoffend. This makes sense intuitively, as those with a steady job have purpose in life, can provide for themselves and their family, contribute financially to the community, feel productive and therefore, are less likely to reoffend.

Hong Kong had a 21 per cent recidivism rate among all offenders discharged in 2019 (down from a 27 per cent rate in 2015), meaning that about one in five people were reconvicted and reimprisoned in correctional institutions within two years after discharge.

This compares favourably to some other countries, though it’s not something to be proud of. Similar data from Australia shows a 46 per cent reoffending rate. In New Zealand 70 per cent of ex-offenders are reconvicted within two years and 49 per cent reimprisoned after two years out, while in the US 44 per cent return to prison within their first year out.

Ex-prisoners face tremendous difficulties in obtaining employment post-release. Several factors contribute to this, including lack of necessary job skills and the reluctance of employers to hire candidates with criminal records. Employers are understandably nervous about hiring someone with a criminal record as ex-convicts tend to be stigmatised for their past criminality, with many seen as seen as irresponsible and untrustworthy.

People view vacancies at a job fair organised by the Labour Department, in Mong Kok, on June 1, 2021.

Business leaders, therefore, can play an outsized role in remedying some of the fissures in society by simply offering ex-offenders an opportunity to interview for a job. In today’s business environment where Hong Kong is in need of talent, perhaps we can open our hearts and minds to ex-offenders (or the mildly-termed “justice-involved” individuals) as potential candidates.

If rehabilitated offenders have already served their time and shown remorse for their actions, we can acknowledge that their debt to society has been paid. Even Police Commissioner Raymond Siu believes that Hongkongers should give a second chance to teenagers who took part in illegal activities in 2019 and who now show remorse.

Of course, the ex-offenders also need to demonstrate an ability to support the efforts of our communities and strive to become upstanding members of society. Though it will be difficult and not without discomfort, reconciliation is not possible without compromise on all sides.

Perhaps the true test of a community’s character is not just giving second chances to saints, but also to sinners. Each and every one of us has an equal interest in our community, and thus each of us can play a part in healing it.

A criminal conviction is only one part of a person’s story. Perhaps we all need to try harder to emulate the divine and forgive, even if we cannot forget. After all, who among us has never been guilty of making bad choices?

Newsletter

Related Articles

Hong Kong News
0:00
0:00
Close
It's always the people with the dirty hands pointing their fingers
Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
Steve Jobs' Son Launches Venture Capital Firm With $200 Million For Cancer Treatments
Google reshuffles Assistant unit, lays off some staffers, to 'supercharge' products with A.I.
End of Viagra? FDA approved a gel against erectile dysfunction
UK sanctions Russians judges over dual British national Kara-Murza's trial
US restricts visa-free travel for Hungarian passport holders because of security concerns
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Political leader from South Africa, Julius Malema, led violent racist chants at a massive rally on Saturday
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
'I am not your servant': IndiGo crew member, passenger get into row over airline meal
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Spanish Citizenship Granted to Iranian chess player who removed hijab
US Senate Republican Mitch McConnell freezes up, leaves press conference
Speaker McCarthy says the United States House of Representatives is getting ready to impeach Joe Biden.
San Francisco car crash
This camera man is a genius
3D ad in front of Burj Khalifa
Next level gaming
BMW driver…
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The politician and the journalist lost control and started fighting on live broadcast.
The future of sports
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
Joe Biden admitted, in his own words, that he delivered what he promised in exchange for the $10 million bribe he received from the Ukraine Oil Company.
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
The Last Pour: Anchor Brewing, America's Pioneer Craft Brewer, Closes After 127 Years
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
BBC Anchor Huw Edwards Hospitalized Amid Child Sex Abuse Allegations, Family Confirms
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Distorted Mirror of actual approval ratings: Examining the True Threat to Democracy Beyond the Persona of Putin
40,000 child slaves in Congo are forced to work in cobalt mines so we can drive electric cars.
×