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This year's third edition of the Yellow Ribbon Prison Run (YRR) will be attended by almost 600 runners. This is a record number of people supporting a second chance for those ex-offenders, who completed their prison sentence, and have been seeking a return to a normal life since. Last year, 374 athletes ran, and the first edition of the YRR in 2016 was attended by only 32 people.
The YRR project advances public awareness and acceptance of reintegrating ex-offenders into society. The project focuses on the problem of difficult employability of ex-offenders, and it aims at creating employment opportunities for them - linking them to a wider community, thereby contributing to crime prevention, reoffending rate cuts and securing a safer society in general.
The first of the “yellow“ races - half marathon - will take place already on April, 7th. A press conference to commemorate the event along with a half-marathon training will take place on March 22, at 11 am at the Kotlaska Community Center. A new song composed by the prisoners from the Kuřim Prison will be presented at the press event. Its official version will be released after the recording in the new studio of the critically acclaimed Tap Tap band.
The races - half marathon, marathon, 2RUN and relays - will take place as part of the RunCzech Running League from April to June. Prisoners, former convicts, crime victims, corporate directors and managers, civil servants, NGO employees, sports fans, and dozens of others will run side by side.
Every year, more than 10.000 ex-offenders complete their prison sentence in the Czech Republic, and are released from various prisons. It is disheartening that they have to live with the stigma of having served time behind bars which can be more punishing than the prison sentence itself. Many ex-offenders find themselves literally stepping into a second prison. But this time, it would be a prison with invisible bars, the one of suspicion, mistrust and discrimination. Even the best rehabilitation regime during their incarceration is of no use, if ex-offenders find themselves rejected at home. This is the reason the Yellow Ribbon Project promotes a more accepting society, one that is willing to give ex-offenders a second chance to start a new chapter in their lives.
"I am very pleased that we are opening already the third edition of the Yellow Ribbon Run, and the numbers of runners and supporters have been steadily growing. It is an important signal to our prison staff confirming the significance of connecting our demanding work in prisons with an effective after-release care. Only then can we take a step forward in fighting recidivism rates,“ says Gabriela Slováková, director of the women's prison in Světlá nad Sázavou, and initiator of the YRR project. „We also need to signal to our clients with a criminal past that if they work hard, they will be given a second chance," she adds. According to Slováková, the Yellow Ribbon project has already shown positive results. "Our partners – big employers - created 296 jobs for prisoners and 96 jobs for ex-offenders in 2017, and we thank them so much," she added.
“Recent labour market development suggests improving chances for the people with a criminal past thanks to decreasing unemployment rates and an improving public awareness of their needs,” says Andrea Matoušková, director of the Czech Probation and Mediation Service. “Some Czech employers began noticing that people with criminal history could be good and loyal employees," adds Andrea Matoušková
"The social reintegration of ex-prisoners into the community reduces levels of recidivism significantly. When we help these people to secure a job and get back to normal life, we also help ourselves. The Yellow Ribbon Run is one of the projects that also helps us bring the issue to the eyes of the public, which is essential," explains Dagmar Doubravová, director of the non-profit organization RUBIKON Center.
The total of 73 runners with a yellow ribbon pinned to their T-shirts - including nine prisoners from and one ex-offender - will hit the track at Sportisimo 1/2Maraton Prague on April, 7th. According to the organizers, the total number of runners in all the Yellow Ribbon Prison Run races will climb to 600.
“Together with the entire RunCzech team, we participated at the birth of the fantastic Yellow Ribbon Run project. We continue to support the project in 2018 with great joy. The fact that people deserve to get a second chance is true more than ever, and I am very glad that running can help people start new lives. Running is just a great sport, which I have been saying for more than twenty years !" adds Carlo Capalbo, RunCzech President and Chairman of the IAAF Road Running Commission.
The 2018 edition of the prison run is co-organized with the help from the Prison Service of the Czech Republic, nonprofit organization RUBIKON Centre, Czech Probation and Mediation Service, and RunCzech. The project is held under the auspices of the Czech Minister of Justice, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, and the Public Defender of Rights. The YRR project was made possible thanks to our partners: D.A.S. Rechtsschutz AG is this year's general partner. Kostelecké uzeniny a.s. is the golden partner. We also thank to our silver partners - United Bakeries a.s., Lion Products Ltd., Futaba Czech s.r.o. and bronze partners - Arriva Transport Czech Republic a.s. and Hamernik a.s. We have also partners supporting individual runners with a criminal past - Jipocar Obaly, s., Haki a., Agro Jevišovice and. S., Martin Cavar - connecting material, Rohde, spol. s., Veolia Czech Republic, a. s., WSM - Czech Republic s., Still ČR spol. Additional support was provided by Lighthouse o. s., Dermacol a.s., Banh-mi-ba and Tesco. Europe 2 is our partner for the media.
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