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Prisoner Employment Strategy launched

11 May 2006

Prisoner Employment Strategy launched

The Department of Corrections welcomed the launch of the Government’s new three-year strategy to increase and improve employment opportunities for prisoners by the Minister of Corrections Hon Damien O’Connor today.

Chief Executive Barry Matthews says the Prisoner Employment Strategy 2006-2009 provides a framework to increase the range, quality and relevance of employment related opportunities for prisoners.

“Prisoner employment plays an integral part in the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners by providing prisoners with essential work skills and habits,” says Mr Matthews.

“Not only does prisoner employment increase the chance prisoners will find sustainable work on their release, research shows this will result in a decreased number of prisoners being reconvicted.

“The importance of prisoner employment can be seen once you consider that many prisoners have been long-term unemployed and some have earned an income from illegal activities. In fact, in 2003 only 45 per cent of sentenced prisoners had been in paid employment before entering prison,” explains Mr Matthews.

“The Prisoner Employment Strategy will increase the range and quality of both employment and employment related training for significantly more prisoners. It will also increase the level and relevance of the National Qualifications Framework unit and achievement standards gained by prisoners.”

“The Strategy will also improve the sustainability of business-like industries operated by Corrections such as forestry and engineering to provide work skills and habits for prisoners in work environments that replicates, where possible, the workplace environment outside prison.

“Getting more prisoners into work will also contribute to effective prisoner management by reducing the amount of time prisoners are idle, which can create tension in the prison environment.”

The improvement of employment outcomes for Maori prisoners is a key area of focus for Corrections over the next three years.

“Maori are disproportionately represented in prison, making up half the prison population. Maori are also disproportionately represented in re-offending statistics. It is vital we improve work opportunities and training for Maori in prison to help them find sustainable post-release employment. This is an important step in reducing New Zealand’s prison population,” says Mr Matthews.

The Prisoner Employment Strategy 2006-2009 builds on the Inmate Employment Strategic Plan 2001-2004, which delivered significant achievements in prisoner employment, including the growth of externally recognised qualifications held by prisoners and the provision of meaningful employment in prisons.


ENDS

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