People with convictions and those who have spent time in jail find barriers to moving on with their lives — in both employment and further education.

When Damien Quinn came out of prison he thought he was quits with society; he had done wrong and paid his debt.

What he didn’t realise then was that society wasn’t done with him. His debt had not been paid.

He would be expected to keep paying, long into the future, as if the idea of a second chance was one which society had yet to get its head around.

“I naively believed that my punishment was over but really it was only beginning,” he says.

Quinn was to discover that ex-prisoners are left with a stain which is difficult to remove.

In a whole host of ways, they are faced with challenges that have nothing to do with how they had transgressed to a point where they were imprisoned.

Large parts of society continue to regard ex-prisoners with suspicion, particularly but not exclusively in areas like employment.

“I had been under the assumption that I would be able to move on and get on with my life,” Quinn says.

“But certainly early on nobody was willing to give me a chance.”

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