Reducing Re-Offending Key Focus of Inmate Employment Policy

  • Paul East

The Government's determination to have all prison inmates doing a full day's work moved a step closer today with the release of the inmate employment policy by Minister of Corrections Paul East.

"The Government's intention, as set out in the Coalition Agreement, is to have all inmates doing a decent day's work so that they develop good work habits and improve their chances of getting jobs when they're released from prison," said Mr East.

"Many inmates come to prison with few, if any, work skills and unless they acquire them in prison, they'll come out with a prison record and little prospect of gainful employment.

"Inmates must also learn that work is a proper means of supporting themselves and their families," said Mr East.

He said the target was for inmates to work a minimum of six hours a day, five days a week leaving time available for education, therapy and skill training. "Having inmates engaged in a structured day not only boosts their self-esteem but has the added benefit of maintaining good order in our prisons," said Mr East.

"The inmate employment policy sets out a framework for developing and maintaining prison industries. At the moment about 70% of all inmates are engaged in some sort of work ranging from labouring to highly specialised computer based work. The Department of Corrections is regularly identifying new employment opportunities.

Mr East said the framework would ensure prison industries were run on a commercial basis so that they helped contribute to the considerable cost of running prisons.

"The policy strikes a balance between commercial objectives and ensuring private sector businesses are not adversely affected."

Mr East said prison authorities would target industries where there was little opposition to entry such as imported goods, community services and prison self-sufficiency services.

"The Government consulted widely in the preparation of this policy. I am particularly grateful for the valuable contributions made by a number of groups and individuals including New Zealand Prisoners' Aid and Rehabilitation Society, Steve Marshall of the Employers' Federation, Simon Arnold of the Manufacturers' Federation, Ken Douglas of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions and my colleagues the Minister of Employment, Peter McCardle, and NZ First MP Neil Kirton," said Mr East

Copies of the inmate employment policy can be obtained from the Department of Corrections.