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Corrections seeking greater community involvement

For Immediate Release 10 November 2006

Corrections seeking greater community involvement

Department of Corrections Chief Executive Barry Matthews today said greater community cooperation and assistance is vital to providing more employment opportunities for prisoners.

“Prisoner employment is an important step towards reducing re-offending and provides prisoners with employment skills, training and formal qualifications to help them find work on release,” says Mr Matthews. “For this reason, we are aiming to substantially increase the number of prisoners employed in meaningful work.”

Mr Matthews says Corrections launched its Prisoner Employment Strategy earlier in the year. The Strategy will help address the obstacles prisoners face in obtaining post release employment and aims to increase prisoner employment from 40 to 60 percent by 2009.

“It is in everyone’s interest that we do all we can to ensure prisoners leave prison to become law-abiding, independent and productive citizens,” says Mr Matthews.

Corrections is looking to increase both prison-based employment and Release-to-Work opportunities. Release to Work is a form of temporary release allowing prisoners nearing release to be employed during the day in paid employment in the community.

Good prison-based industries are those that are labour intensive and allow Corrections to provide formal training to prisoners. Ideally, we are keen to work with employers who are having difficulty recruiting staff due to the current tight labour market or because they are experiencing a regional skills shortage.

“We want to hear from businesses and explore employment opportunities that are mutually beneficial,” says Mr Matthews. “There is a wide range of industries operating in prisons, including uniform manufacturing, packaging and distribution, furniture making, light engineering and component assembly, and concrete panel manufacture.”

Mr Matthews says suitable jobs for prisoners on Release to Work are entry level positions such as labourers, machine operators, or warehouse workers and prisoners on Release to Work are currently employed in jobs in the harvesting, horticulture, silviculture, timber processing farming, construction, manufacturing and service sectors.

“These types of opportunities ultimately make communities safer because research shows prisoners who have a job post-release are less likely to re-offend. They also benefit communities by helping ease regional labour shortages and providing businesses with reliable staff.”

“Corrections is working hard across the board to increase meaningful work in prisons. We need community assistance to progress this.”

If you are interested in working with Corrections Inmate Employment to increase prisoner employment opportunities please contact Win McDonald on (04) 460-3341 or email cie.worktraining[at]corrections.govt.nz or cie.releasetowork[at]corrections.govt.nz

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Background Information

Prisoner Employment Strategy (PES)

The Strategy will help address the obstacles prisoners face in obtaining post-release employment. Prisoner employment provides prisoners with employment skills, work experience, training and formal qualifications to help them find work on release.

Research shows prisoners who find sustainable work after release are less likely to re-offend.


PES Goals:

* The Strategy aims to increase prisoners employed in activities from 40 to 60 percent between July 2006 and June 2009.


Where we are:

* The implementation of the Prisoner Employment Strategy is progressing well.

* A review has been completed to ensure greater prisoner participation on Release to Work without compromising community safety.

* Corrections is working with the Ministry of Social Development to develop and implement initiatives that support prisoner reintegration.

* Total employment hours by prisoners have increased from 4.6 million hours in 2004/2005 to 5.2 million hours in 2005/06.

* The number of NZQA unit standards achieved by prisoners has also increased from 3,643 in 2004/05 to 5,567 in 2005/06.

* The Department has increased the number of prisoners on Release to Work from approximately 15 earlier in the year to approximately 65 at present. It aims to further increase prisoner participation in Release to Work to 80 by February 2007 and 160 by December 2007.


ENDS

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