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Greens Reveal Huge Cuts To Inmate Education

Green MP Nandor Tanczos today revealed that the Department of Corrections has cut all funding for adult prison inmates to study through the correspondence school or external education institutes.

Under a directive dated March 31 the department has said no further inmates are to be enrolled in distance education unless they can fund it themselves, their study will not interfere with any employment activities and they will not require any support from prison service tutors.

The cut to the huge range of education possibilities available through the correspondence school has been made to implement the NZQA National Certificate of Employment Skills (NCES).

Mr Tanczos said that higher priority should be placed on providing educational opportunities for inmates than on allowing conjugal visits.

"The Green Party support the implementation of the NCES, but not as the sole educational option. The bottom line is that these cuts will seriously reduce the educational opportunities and choice available for inmates which is a very bad thing."

Mr Tanczos said he was "absolutely stunned" to learn of these cuts. He said there would be very few inmates who would be able to afford to fund any study themselves and to demand that they do will make it more difficult for inmates to get educated, and so find legitimate employment upon release.

"I am particularly concerned that inmates currently in education are only allowed to continue with that study if they do not need any support from prison staff," said Mr Tanczos. "In-house prison tutors provide a crucial role in helping inmates with learning and this directive seems to be sidelining them from the education of inmates.

"The Greens believe education is a crucial key for rehabilitating offenders in our public prisons. We believe education - and the option of one on one education with the aid of prison tutors - is vital if we are serious about stopping reoffending. People coming out of prison need to be equipped for something other than a life of crime."

"Again we fully support the introduction of NCES, however in this case it is being introduced at the expense of a huge range of educational opportunities previously available to inmates, and the tutor support they were once entitled to," said Mr Tanczos.

"The cutting of distance education will come as a nasty shock for inmates wishing to study an area of interest not offered by NCES. This is a huge shake-up for education in prisons and the result - restricting choice and educational opportunity for inmates - can only be a bad thing."

Mr Tanczos will be asking Corrections Minister Matt Robson a question on this development during question time this afternoon. The directive from the Department of Corrections is attached.

Nandor Tanczos MP: 04 470 6716, 025 246 5235, Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 04 470 6719, 021 110 1133

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