Men often go to prison for violent offences but at Rimutaka Prison the men are providing a vital service in support of the anti-violence campaign ‘White Ribbon Day’.
White Ribbon Day, held on November 25, is the international day when people, particularly men, wear a white ribbon to show they will not tolerate violence towards women.
In preparation for the event prisoners at Rimutaka Prison have individually hand made more than 500,000 ribbons out of 60km of material. The prisoners printed the cards for the ribbons, cut the ribbons to size, pinned them to the cards and boxed all the products for national distribution. Some of the prisoners also helped with the design and production of one of the posters being used for the campaign.
Corrections Inmate Employment National Manager Brent Maughan says Corrections is proud of the partnership it has had with the national White Ribbon Day campaign committee for the past three years.
“It’s a real honour for the Department to be involved with a campaign that supports such an important cause. The project has given the prisoners the opportunity to give something back to the community while reflecting on the negative repercussions of violent offending.”
The Department of Corrections has established a number of rehabilitation programmes for violent offenders and has a Special Treatment Unit located at Rimutaka Prison which provides men with the skills to help control their behaviour and avoid re-offending.
The Department of Corrections, through Corrections Inmate Employment, aims to provide a range of initiatives to improve prisoners' employment skills, training and formal qualifications while they are serving their prison sentence.
The last prison census showed that 55 per cent of prisoners did not have a job before entering prison and that 52 per cent had no formal qualifications. Research shows that prisoners who find sustainable employment on release are less likely to re-offend.
Brent says the project has been beneficial towards the prisoner’s employment training and rehabilitation.
“Introducing these prisoners to basic employment skills helps to build their work experience and attitude towards pursuing further employment and making positive changes in their lives”.
As part of the ribbon making some of the prisoners have learned numeracy skills, they’ve become accustomed to a work routine, others have developed skills in printing. "We look forward to continuing our involvement with the White Ribbon Campaign in the future.”
The Families Commission helps fund and co-ordinate resources for the campaign and Chief Commissioner Dr Jan Pryor says the relationship with the Department of Corrections has had huge benefits for the many organisations involved with White Ribbon Day.
“Without this help the cost of supplying the ribbons would have been much higher and their manufacture would have taken place offshore. The production and distribution of all resources by the prisoners provides us with a seamless service. It also saves community organisations around the country a great deal of time and expense which allows them to focus on their White Ribbon Day activities and events. We are also delighted to hear that there have been benefits to the prisoners.”
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