Industrial estates eyed for inmates
The Department of Corrections has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT) to set up a special industrial zone that will provide vocational job training and employment to prison inmates prior to their release.
Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin said the IEAT is conducting a feasibility study for a "Nikhom Ratchatan" estate, the first of which the government plans to build in Samut Sakhon, which he said has the potential to absorb the added manpower.
Mr Somsak said the proposal followed the result of a pilot project between Ban Bueng temporary prison in Chon Buri and the private sector, in which about 400 inmates who were about to finish their sentences were hired to manufacture bicycles and wooden pallets.
The inmates were paid daily minimum wages and were allowed to continue working at the factories after their release, he said.
The Justice Minister said the project was envisioned to help reintegrate inmates into society.
"About 70,000-80,000 inmates are released each year and many of them have difficulties finding jobs. So we're looking to set up 'Nikhom Ratchatan' estates in labour-intensive provinces like Samut Sakhon, for instance, which has 7,000 factories," he said.
"If these factories hire 10 inmates each, we can secure jobs for 70,000 inmates."
Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit, who presided over the MoU signing with Mr Somsak last week, said the ministry has been working closely with the Corrections Department to provide vocational training and create job opportunities for prison inmates.
He said the "Nikhom Ratchatan" scheme may also help reduce Thailand's dependency on migrant workers and address the problem of illegal migrant workers.