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Tanczos, Robson to meet over inmate education cuts

Tanczos, Robson to meet over inmate education cuts

Green Party Justice Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos will meet with Corrections Minister Matt Robson next week to discuss Green Party concerns over the cutting of external education to prison inmates.

Mr Tanczos said he is meeting with the Minister to clarify the Government's position on the education funding cuts which the Department of Corrections say came into effect in all New Zealand prisons on March 31 this year.

Yesterday the Green Party revealed a Department of Corrections directive which states that funding for all external adult education for inmates has been cut - as of March 31 - in order to implement the National Certificate of Employment Skills (NCES).

According to the directive, inmates wishing to study anything outside of NCES now have to pay for it themselves and will not have the support of a prison service tutor.

"I am keen to talk to the Minister to clarify what is going on. When he answered my question in the House yesterday, he said that School Certificate, Bursary and tertiary education would be available alongside the NCES, and that a final decision had not been made. The directive from the Ministry however clearly stated that adult education apart from the NCES would not be funded after March 31. This seems to be a contradiction.

"The Green Party support the implementation of the NCES, but not as the sole educational option. These cuts are completely out of step with the Minister's commitments to restorative justice and the rehabilitation of inmates," said Mr Tanczos.

Mr Tanczos said he accepted the changes to the inmate education system operating within the prison began under the previous government but said the onus was now firmly on Mr Robson to front up and reverse the changes.

"These changes - which the directive states have been in place for nearly two months - amount to a drastic change to inmate education. Opportunity and choice have been effectively eliminated. The Greens will push hard for continued funding for a range of educative options.

"I personally campaigned on a platform of restorative justice with a focus on victims of crime and the rehabilitation of offenders," he said. "Education of inmates is absolutely crucial to enabling them to fit back into society and function normally, and any restrictions on inmate education is contrary to the goals of rehabilitation and crime reduction."

Mr Tanczos said the case for reversing the cuts was compelling.

"Take the example of Dr Greg Newbold, the Head of Criminology at Canterbury University, for example. Dr Newbold completed his degree while in prison and is now one of the countries leading criminologists. Under this new scheme, stories like Dr Newbold's will be impossible," he said.

Nandor Tanczos MP: 04 470 6712, 025 246 5235; Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 04 470 6719, 021 110 1133

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