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Business Leaders Back Jobs-Not-Crime Campaign

9 February 2001

Business leaders are supporting a campaign to use jobs to turn offenders away from crime, says Minister of Corrections Matt Robson.

Mr Robson today approached participants at the Business Government Forum in Christchurch, suggesting employers can play a crucial role in beating crime.

"Tackling reoffending is the key to enhancing community safety. Getting offenders working is the single best way to turn them off crime," says Mr Robson.

Nearly half of inmates released in the 1998/1999 year were reconvicted within a year. Almost thirty per cent were reimprisoned.

"But the battle against reoffending cannot be won by government alone: we need the private sector to provide work. Together, we can get the job done."

The Christchurch talks follow an approach from businesspeople at last year's forum in Auckland, offering help with the Labour Alliance coalition's campaign to build community safety.

"I began meetings with a number of them in the wake of the Auckland forum. Now a number of employers in Christchurch are interested in lending their help. This will deepen the pool of jobs available.

"Given the latest employment figures, the timing is ideal."

Department of Corrections officials are also looking at ways to bring more employers into the Release to Work programme, which uses job placements near the end sentences to prepare inmates for release.

Mr Robson will also talk with Work and Income New Zealand to ensure ex-inmates are steered towards Job Plus and other employment help.

"Keeping ex-inmates out of trouble will boost community safety by heading off the harm they could otherwise wreak in our homes, streets and businesses."

"The cost to New Zealand of each violent offence has been assessed at $570,000. Each sexual offence costs $460,000. That is on top of the incalculable human cost."

Mr Robson says reducing reoffending will enable resources to be channelled away from building prisons, towards more rehabilitation programmes behind bars. Eventually, the money can be spent on education, housing and employment.

"We will have safer neighbourhoods. We will have broken a pointless, frustrating cycle."


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