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Labour lets more prisoners avoid work

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

12 November 2007

Labour lets more prisoners avoid work

The Labour Government is allowing more and more prisoners to get away with not working, says National's Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power.

He is releasing information which shows that the number of sentenced prisoners refusing to work has jumped from 34 in February last year to 299 in September this year.

"Basically, Corrections is just sitting by and watching as 4.6% of the prison population does nothing all day, every day.

"For a Government that claims it is interested in rehabilitating prisoners, that figure is astounding.

"It is widely acknowledged that working or training is an important part of the rehabilitative process.

"The Ombudsmen, in their 2005 report into prison conditions, said: 'Idleness does nothing for rehabilitation. As one staff member put it, 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 '.

"Letting prisoners get away with not working just cements the perception that prison is a place where a high premium is not placed on work and where idleness is rife.

"This Labour Government has a very poor record when it comes to either making prisoners work or providing meaningful work for those who want to.

"And the number of employment hours on a per prisoner basis has dropped by 26% since 2001, from an average of 18 hours a week to 13 hours in 2006.

"That is a very poor record, and one that this Government should address urgently.

"Not working in prison should not be an option."


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