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Working prisons need safeguards to protect prisoners

29 January 2013

Working prisons need safeguards to protect prisoners and businesses

John Key’s decision that more prisons will require their inmates to participate in 40-hour per week programmes of work and rehabilitation must not ignore prisoners’ rights or harm businesses, the Green Party said today.

“While a structured day, including work and rehabilitative activities, can be a useful tool and would be welcomed by many prisoners, we must make sure that work is not treated as a compulsory or punitive measure,” said Green Party corrections spokesperson David Clendon.

“Prisoners must be paid for the work they do, and this money could be saved for their release to help with their reintegration into wider society. The cost of paying these wages could be partially subsidised from savings made by prisons becoming more self-sufficient if prisoners were to produce food, garments or other goods and services the prison would otherwise have to purchase.

“Private businesses must not be undermined by this scheme, so goods or services produced for sale outside of prisons by prisoners should be costed at market rates so as not to unfairly disadvantage businesses with overheads that prisoners do not have.

“To truly reduce reoffending, prisons need to play their part in training and up-skilling prisoners, and changing attitudes. Work can play a part in this, but only if it is introduced in the right way,” Mr Clendon said.

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