The Corradino Correctional Facility has stopped all inmates carrying out community work after a prisoner escaped earlier this month, the Times of Malta has learnt.

Martin Xuereb, who had been convicted of theft and fraud, made a dash for it while doing community work in Xghajra on December 11. He was arrested later in the day in Cospicua.

Since the escape, the facility has imposed a blanket ban on all the inmates who are granted leave to carry out community work. The only inmates still allowed to conditionally leave the facility are those whose prison term will be completed in three months and those who follow educational courses.

Asked why the decision was taken, whether community work would be reinstated and whether there would be more scrutiny, a spokeswoman for the Home Affairs Ministry said that prison leave general directions were being reviewed.

The prison leave for community work for CCF inmates was expected to resume in the coming weeks, she added.

CCF chaplain Fr Franco Fenech lambasted the decision to impose a blanket ban on all prisoners, highlighting how this went against the idea of reintegration.

Fr Fenech said that many employers had phoned in, complaining that they had entrusted inmates with particular jobs which only they could complete, since they had started them.

Contact between employer and worker had been cut off abruptly, without even giving the inmates the chance for a handover.

A case in point was that of one inmate who was tasked with removing a particular set of tiles and therefore the only one who knew how to put them back in their original positions.

“By imposing a blanket ban, we are not encouraging employers in the slightest. It already feels as if they are nearly doing us a favour, due to the restrictions imposed by the facility. Employers already provide transport themselves for the inmates, who can only work between 7.30am and 4pm,” Fr Fenech said.

“Construction workers generally need to begin work way before 7.30am. I really don’t blame employers for feeling frustrated.

“Just because one prisoner has absconded, it did not mean that the other 50 inmates or so deserved the same treatment.”

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