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Prime Minister Launches Books In Prisons Trust

Serious crimes demand serious measures such as imprisonment, but we must also bear in mind the importance of rehabilitation, and being able to read is an important part of that, Prime Minister Jenny Shipley said today during a visit to Mt Eden Women's Prison.

Mrs Shipley was at the prison to launch the Books in Prisons Trust pilot and to highlight Adult Literacy Day. The Trust will provide inmates with books, a writing course, and remedial reading and writing programmes.

"I am delighted to be able to launch this Trust on Adult Literacy Day, which has been made possible by Government funding through the Department of Corrections.

"The issue of improving adult literacy skills applies to all people regardless of barriers like prison walls.

"The ability to read and write is an important factor in the successful rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders into society after serving a prison term.

"A key part of any rehabilitation programme is education. And the ability to read and write will obviously enhance the effectiveness of such programmes.

"Reading and writing skills also set people up for life outside prison by putting them in a position to gain a driver's licence or a job. Jailed parents who learn literacy skills might also share in the education of their children once they are released," Mrs Shipley said.

Earlier today Education Minister Nick Smith launched the Government's adult literacy strategy in Wellington called 'Unlocking Our Potential'.

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"This is the first close-up look at adult literacy and over the coming months the Ministry of Education will be seeking views and suggestions from the public to develop a cohesive strategy."

Three out of four unemployed people have literacy skills below the defined minimum competency level and 42 per cent of employed people are below the minimum competency level of document literacy.

"Charitable programmes like the Books in Prisons Trust, and the existing Government expenditure on education programmes for prisoners, will ensure inmates have the skills they need for a successful return to society," Mrs Shipley said.

The Patron of the Books in Homes Trust is Dame Fiona Kidman, and the Chairperson is Dame Georgina Kirby.

Other publicly funded prison rehabilitation programmes include: Straight Thinking, Maori Focus Units, Mahi Tahi, Mita Mohi, Drug and alcohol units and New Start.

ENDS


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