An ex-offender has praised companies such as Timpson for employing former prisoners but says it’s sadly ‘not enough’.
Cody Lachey, 35, has been unemployed since he was released from jail over two years ago, and accused employers of ‘discriminating’ against prisoners by deeming them ‘untrustworthy jailbirds’.
Cody, from Manchester, asked: ‘What’s the point of changing our criminal behaviour if society won’t give us a chance?’
Companies such as HMPasties, Virgin Trains and Timpson are making an effort of employing ex convicts – but Cody says he has regularly tweeted James Timpson in hope of a job, with no luck.
He told Metro.co.uk: ‘I was released from prison two years and two months ago and no one will give me a job. I even tweeted James Timpson and he has either not seen it, or he’s ignoring me.
‘Anyone willing to take on an ex-offender are breaking the cycle of crime. These are the companies who are letting people be the architects of their futures.
‘If you give someone a second chance and show them they can be successful, I think most will grab it and repay it with loyalty and pay tax back into the system which they have taken so much from.’
He said he has ‘sadly and embarrassingly’ had to resort to benefits, and said it was almost as if ‘the system wants us to fail’.
He continued: ‘Every time I get rejected, I get labelled a criminal. I’ve changed my criminal behaviour.’
The Timpson Group, which has recruited prisoners for 15 years, have urged more employers to follow in their footsteps.
Owner James Timpson wants the government to introduce national insurance holidays to encourage employers taking on former prisoners, armed forces veteran and long-term unemployed people.
Over 1,200 ex-offenders are working for the Timpson Group, which include their namesake locksmith shop, Snappy Snaps, Max Spielmann and Johnson and Jeeves dry cleaners.
Cody said although the attitudes towards prisoners are slowly changing, there’s still a ‘long way to go’.
He added: ‘If you tick the convict box, the fact is – in my experience – you don’t even get through the door for an interview, and if you lie and don’t tick it, you can sacked for gross misconduct.’
Cody, who was locked up for two years in total for three separate convictions, including assaulting a police officer and harassment with threats, says he sometimes feel tempted to return to the life of crime.
However, he has made a promise to his mum after seeing how his behaviour was affecting her, adding: ‘If my mum was dead I would probably be straight back among it, not that I want to.
‘People are being kicked out of prison with £46 and expected to act like a law abiding citizen, but that’s not enough.
‘A lot of these people want to break the cycle but many have no clue how. All they know is crime.’
He suggested a government scheme that would offer employers £1,000 for employing a former prisoner for one year.
Cody added: ‘By giving these people a second chance in society they are saving taxpayers around £40,000 a year, which is the cost of housing them in prison.’
The ex-offender, who says he’s been shot at and stabbed, said he took a ‘shortcut to criminality’ after seeing how his mum struggled to make ends meet on minimum wage.
However, he had a ‘light bulb’ moment after realising how his criminality was costing his mum money and how it physically and emotionally drained her to drive for two-and-a-half hours to visit him in jail.
He explained: ‘I received a phone call and was told my mum wasn’t sleeping, eating and had bags under her eyes. She was paying for my rent on her credit card.’
When she came to visit him in jail after that phone call, he gave her ‘a big bear hug’ and returned to his cell where ‘I cried my eyes out and decided I’m not doing this anymore.’
When he was released a few weeks later he ‘walked away from everything and everyone I’ve ever known’.
However, he added: ‘I don’t want to do this no more, but all I’ve been met with is road blocks.
‘I will not stop my persistency, but I would be lying if I wasn’t saying every time I’ve been rejected I’ve been frustrated. It’s almost like the system is saying “go back to crime”.’
He said it was ironic how wanting to avoid a life on minimum wage was his way into crime, adding: ‘It’s what I’m doing in the end and I would now grab that opportunity with both hands.’