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Youth Unit Makes Public Safer

A new youth unit at Christchurch Prison will mean that fewer young prison inmates will go on to a life of crime, Corrections Minister Matt Robson predicted at the opening of the unit today.

The new self-contained $6.2 million youth unit houses up to forty inmates. It consists of an entry building, two accommodation blocks, inmate employment workshops, recreation and sports facilities.

"The unit teaches youth to think and act responsibly. The units work towards changing the behaviour of young offenders with schooling, work, sport and programmes that look at the reasons for their offending," Matt Robson said.

"The Government is committed to making the public safer by reducing re-offending. Youth units help to reduce the level of re-offending by keeping young inmates away from adult offenders."

Forty per cent of male inmates under 20 will eventually be housed in Youth Units. That means 200 inmates now and approximately 230 by 2005.

"The new report 'About Time' shows the best way to keep the public safe is to turn people away from a life of crime and to reduce re-offending. Youth units do that by targeting young offenders intensively, early in their offending careers.

Entry to the youth unit is through Christchurch Prison’s new $3.3 million gatehouse. Metal and drug detection capability has been built into the gatehouse to complement the extensive fenced boundary.

“The gatehouse will be the one point of entry and exit to the prison. It will help to stamp out drugs and contraband in prison,” Matt Robson said.

Media Note: The Youth Unit is not the same as Youth Justice Centres. They house offenders too young to be sent to prison, or who have been directed into Youth Justice Centres as an alternative to prison.

Ends

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