• Sun
  • Aug 31, 2014
  • Updated: 6:55am
NewsHong Kong

Prisoners being trained as taxi drivers to prepare them for life after release

Jail gives inmates a chance to learn skills that will help them find jobs when they're released

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 June, 2014, 2:54am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 June, 2014, 11:05am

The taxi driver beams as he opens the door for his passengers, before sliding into the front seat.

But he isn't a real taxi driver, and they aren't on the road.

The 48-year-old, who gave the pseudonym Ah Geen, is an inmate at a minimum-security prison in Stanley, which was showcasing a new taxi driver training course yesterday that enables inmates to obtain licences upon release.

Eleven inmates from the Tung Tau Correctional Institution recently passed the first written taxi driver's licence test offered at a Hong Kong prison.

They were among 13 inmates who took the Correctional Services Department's new taxi driver training course, during which inmates attended classes for 48 days before taking the test.

"I worry about my future life and problems," said Ah Geen. "Once I knew that this taxi driver's course was being offered here, I signed up straight away … so that when I get out I will be ready for employment."

Ah Geen, who passed the test, will be released at the end of this month, after serving 16 months over a business swindle.

Fifteen of 16 inmates who took a 100-day travel agent assistant course also passed the test. The course taught skills such as customer service and operating travel agency computer programmes. It has been offered three times.

"I don't want to waste my days in here," said an inmate who completed the travel agent course and gave the name Ah Wei.

After serving 18 months in jail for triad membership, he will be released in July, he said.

For now, both courses are only offered at the Tung Tau institution.

They are part of the department's voluntary vocational training programme, which offers more than 30 courses at 13 prisons in trades that are in high demand.

It aims to help inmates find careers and reintegrate into society when they are released.

Ma Ka-kit, the department's manager for industries and vocational training, said the requirements for enrolment included serving a sentence that ends three to 24 months after the start date of the course.

Those who want to take the taxi course must also have a driver's licence.

"Our programmes are based on market demand and interest," Ma said, explaining that courses were constantly under review. "We aim to have more diversity."

Other courses offered include laundry service, multimedia production, programming, and welding and metalwork.



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This article is now closed to comments

seriously ? ex-con taxi drivers ? what a great idea ! a convicted rapist will soon be driving office ladies, flight attendants and female store clerks to work alone in a taxi - i'm sure it's completely safe ! don't worry.
Seriously learn to read. It's being offered at a MINIMUM security prison. No rapists or ****s are being offered this chance. The inmates being trained are in there for lesser offenses. I honestly think this is a great idea - people make mistakes, and once they have done their time in jail, they are given a chance to reintegrate into society.
Let's all overreact in a predictable way now.
??? ok skhk-- sending your sister, mom, gf, or whoever in the middle of the night on a taxi ride alone with a previously convicted rapist is:
a) a great idea
b) may require some thought
c) just plain dumb
They can get other jobs that are in stores/warehouses/factories.
You would make a great politician, just so politically correct and fighting for the people. Would you like to have charles manson and friends living right next door to you if they got out of prision?


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