New Zealand prisoners do nothing says National party

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Figures released by Simon Power, law and order spokesman for the National party, show that the New Zealand Labour led government lets 81% of all prisoners not do any work while in prison. Newspaper, Sunday News says that some Christchurch prisoners have been given a barbecue for good behavior.

Simon Power’s figures show that of the 7,612 prisoners only 19% (1,470) of them took part in Corrections Inmate Employment during 2006. But in 2005 it was at 23% and in 2004 it was at 26%. He says that the prisons with the least amount of inmates working are: Rolleston with 8.6%, Mount Eden with 8.7%, Rimutaka with 11%, Christchurch Women’s with 13.5% and Dunedin with 13.8%. Mr Power said: “These figures are an appalling indictment on this Government’s approach to prisoner rehabilitation and preparing them for release.”

“In May, Corrections Minister Damien O’Connor announced a strategy that he said would help in ā€˜significantly increasing the number of prisoners in work and training. But a week later this was shown to be nothing more than window dressing when the Budget increased funding for prisoner employment by a measly $336,000 ā€“ up 1%.”

“They have cut funding [on the Corrections Department] by 27% since 2001/02, from $46.5 million to $34 million.”

Mr Power blames the low work rate on the big prison construction budget of $490 million. “There would have been more than a miserable $336,000 extra to spend on effective rehabilitation and work schemes,” he said.

“[Mr O’Conner] seems happier to spend $11 million on landscaping four new prisons and allow prisoners to sit around playing Playstations and Xboxes on their flat-screen TVs than he is about helping them get better prepared for when they are released.”

“Prisoners should be doing meaningful work, training or study while they are in prisons, and I imagine the public would agree,” Mr Power added.

Mr Power, commenting on the barbecue, said: “These people are in prison because they were found to be in serious breach of the law. The victims of their crimes will be grossly offended by the idea that they are being rewarded for anything. This is the just the latest in a long line of incredibly bad decisions made by the Corrections Department over the past year and taxpayers have had enough.”

Bevan Hanlon, president for the Corrections Officers Association, said: “The Mobsters getting a BBQ was a “joke”. (Christchurch Prison) staff are reporting the smell of dope every day. Mobsters are threatening staff on a daily basis and there appears to be high cellphone use (mobile phones are banned in jail). So what happens? They are given a BBQ.”

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