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Fresh Start Makes Major Economic Gains

Fresh Start Makes Major Economic Gains

Fresh Start Inc. was incorporated in May 1998 and approved by IRD as a charity. Since then more than 1000 ex-offenders have been assisted into paid employment.

In the three years ended June 30, 2002 Fresh Start placed 839 ex-offenders into lawful, paid employment. It is well established that paid employment significantly reduces re-offending.

Based on international research, we estimate that Fresh Start’s activities have produced savings for Government of more than $45,990,000 during those three years. Other significant savings (victim, insurance/business, investigation, prosecution and other flow-on costs) are not included.

In the eight months to February 28, 2003 Fresh Start field officers and volunteers placed 206 clients into full time paid employment. In all cases there is an on-going contact or mentoring programme to achieve at least 91 days full time employment. More than 56 % of the placements have been in the Auckland region. But the South Island has shown a substantial increase with placements ranging from Nelson to Dunedin. Clients placed include some of the most difficult - ex-offenders on life parole and those who have had many previous convictions for serious crimes.

Fresh Start believes it is essential that Government and the community accord a priority to placing ex-offenders into lawful employment. The majority of long term unemployed are also ex-offenders.

The Fresh Start National Committee is seeking a formal partnership between the Community, Private and State sectors.

Some officials and others argue that it would be unethical to accord any priority to the employment of ex-offenders. But some under-privileged sections are accorded a priority. Further, that for officials and others to ignore the known benefits of employment in reducing re-offending is to accept some personal and institutional responsibility for the victims of re-offending and the cost to the community.

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