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Prison employment numbers well up

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 12 November 2007

Prison employment numbers well up

Corrections’ push to increase employment opportunities for prisoners has resulted in a significant rise in the number of prisoners engaged in employment and training since July 2006.

Almost 600 employment positions have been established over this period. As of October the total number of prisoners involved in employment or training was equal to 56 percent of the sentenced population and 45 percent of the total muster which is equal to 3,755.

In the first four months of this financial year alone, 179 new positions have already been established and the Release to Work programme target figures are well on track with 147 recorded for October.

Employment and training opportunities are available to prisoners in the 140 prison-based industry businesses ranging from forestry and farming to engineering, printing and joinery. In addition there are external contracted work parties, on-the-job and practical workshop based training and the Release to Work programme.

CIE Manager Brent Maughan says employment is vital in helping prisoners prepare for their eventual release by gaining work and time management skills, providing valuable information to the Parole Board and ultimately, improving public safety.

Mr Maughan says Corrections is highly focused on training and upskilling prisoners to help them find meaningful work following their release back into the community.

“In the first four months of this financial year, prisoners have achieved 10,551 New Zealand Qualifications Authority credits which I know some will use as a first step to gaining certificates and diplomas,” Mr Maughan says.

The NZQA credits are accumulated to achieve National Certificates, for example a Level 2 Hospitality Certificate in Cookery is made up of 60 credits and a National Certificate Level 2 in Horticulture is made up of 70 credits.

Prisoner employment growth plans are being rolled out progressively nationwide this year. Each of New Zealand’s 20 prisons will have a plan that specifically targets the profile of its population.

This approach targets employment positions to be created in prisons which meet local labour market needs. It is designed to see prisoners working in occupations specific to the area in which they serve their sentence. A good example of this could be forestry and farming opportunities that are available at Tongariro/Rangipo Prison.

Companies have contracted CIE (Corrections Inmate Employment) to deliver services and products such as plants, organic food, rimu furniture, bedding and engineering products including trailers and attic stairs.

The Department’s target is to have 60 percent of prisoners active in employment related activity by 2010. This will see an additional 1900 prisoners active since July 2006. The Department is well on track to achieve this target.

ENDS


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