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Prisoners working less under Labour

Simon Power
National Party Law & Order Spokesman

17 April 2006

Prisoners working less under Labour

Corrections Minister Damien O’Connor should explain to the public why prison work programmes have been allowed to deteriorate so badly, says National’s Law & Order spokesman, Simon Power.

He released figures today that show that:
The number of prisoner employment hours has dropped 11% since 2001.

Prisoners now work an average of 12.9 hours a week compared with 18.1 in 2002.

The total number of hours of work by prisoners on Corrections Inmate Employment has dropped 15%, from 3.3 million in 2002 to 2.8 million.

Only 20% of prisoners are on CIE, down from 26% in 2004.
The hours of employment in prison market gardens have been cut by 75% since 2001, from 263,000 to 67,000.
The average number of prisoners employed in gardens has been cut from 85 in 2004 to 30 in 2006.

“These figures prove that this Government has given up on work schemes for prisoners.

“Previous figures show that they are even allowing up 100 remand and sentenced prisoners to refuse to take part in any employment activity at all.

“Instead of putting them to work they are giving them an easier time than they have ever had. Under this Government, prisoners can be taken to the beach or get ice cream and steak as rewards, or they can hang out watching R-rated movies inside their $11 million landscaped prisons.

“Letting them get away with not working just cements the perception that prison is a soft option for many of them. Work is exactly the sort of therapy these people need, rather than sitting around in their cells doing nothing.

“Funding for work programmes has slipped from a budget of $46.5 million in 2001/02 to $30.5 million this year.

“Even the Ombudsmen are concerned. In their December 2005 report into the treatment of prisoners they said: ‘… prisoners who have spent all day (possibly for years) lying in bed are not going to be released and say, "I'm now going to go to work".’

“Prisoners should be doing meaningful work, training or study while they are in prison, and I am confident the public would agree,” says Mr Power.


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