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Literacy another failure for Corrections

Media statement
For immediate release
Tuesday, 29 August 2006

Literacy another failure for Corrections

United Future leader Peter Dunne has called on the Government to address the issue of illiteracy amongst New Zealand's prison population.

Recent statistics from the Department of Corrections have shown that 13% of sentenced prisoners and a 'staggering' 26% of Pacific Island prisoners have been identified with a basic literacy need.

"On top of last week's tragedy, we have another example of Corrections getting it wrong," says Mr Dunne.

"Pacific Islanders are over-represented in these statistics. This is a growing population in New Zealand we should be doing all we can to not only educate them to stay out of prison but to educate those that are already there.

"One of the most effective ways of preventing inmates from re-offending is to teach them the necessary skills to get a job and make a contribution to society when they get out. That is a hard thing to do if they lack the most basic literacy requirements."

Literacy education is provided within prisons; however only if a prisoner is motivated enough to address their own illiteracy issue can that prisoner be referred for literacy tuition.

"The present situation seems rather haphazard, surely a more effective system would see every prisoner with a basic literacy need receive tuition as part of their rehabilitation.

"A prisoner's rehabilitation and education is not something that should only be left to those who actively seek it out. Many people do not realise the value that education has until they are exposed to it and can see the positive change it has to their lives.

"The Government and the Department of Corrections must be encouraged to extend their tuition programmes to all those who need it, otherwise I cannot foresee any real reduction in our abnormally high rate of re-offending," concluded Mr Dunne.

ENDS

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