Criminologist backs the government’s prisoners work plan
UC criminologist backs the government’s plan to
make prisoners work hour weeks
January 30, 2013
The idea of providing more working prisons is a
promising idea and signals a turn towards the situation of
prisons in the pre-1980s era when all New Zealand prisons
were working prisons and all inmates were expected to work,
a University of Canterbury (UC) criminologist said
UC Professor Greg Newbold said prison
populations began to escalate in the 1980s and the costs of
keeping prisoners in work became prohibitive.
made the comment today following Prime Minister John Key’s
announcement yesterday that the Government planned to make
all New Zealand prison inmates work 40-hour weeks to cut
boredom and reoffending.
Professor Newbold said the
problem with working prisons was that they tend to be
expensive to run and were seldom economically viable.
``Most prisoners are unskilled and training them can be
slow and costly. Expert training staff has to be employed,
extra security has to be provided and the machinery and
equipment needed to upskill prisoners can be expensive and
require constant upgrading and maintenance.
products of prisoner labour cannot generally be sold on the
open market because it is unfair for an unpaid labour force
to compete with industries. Thus prison industries nearly
always run at a loss.
``However, if a significant
number of prisoners could be trained for careers, put into
work after release and diverted from lives of crime, the
added costs could be money well spent. The idea of
establishing more working prisons is a bold initiative and
is certainly worth a try,’’ he
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