Men often go to prison for violent offences. At Rimutaka Prison and Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility the prisoners are reflecting on the negative impacts of violence by providing a vital service to support the White Ribbon Day campaign.
White Ribbon Day, held on 25 November, is the international day when people, particularly men, wear a white ribbon to show they will not tolerate, condone or remain silent about violence towards women.
In preparation for the event, prisoners at Rimutaka Prison and Auckland Region Women's Corrections Facility have individually hand made more than 500,000 ribbons out of approximately 60 km of ribbon. The prisoners printed the cards for the ribbons, cut the ribbons to size, pinned them to the cards and boxed all the products up for national distribution.
Corrections Chief Executive and White Ribbon Ambassador Barry Matthews says Corrections is proud of the partnership it has had with the national White Ribbon Day campaign committee for the past four years.
“It’s a real honour for the Department to be involved with a campaign that supports such an important cause. Many prisoners have committed violent crimes. The project gives the prisoners the opportunity to reflect on the negative repercussions of their violent offending and gives them the chance to contribute something positive towards helping reduce violence against women.”
Barry says the project has also been beneficial towards prisoner employment training and rehabilitation. “Introducing these prisoners to basic employment skills helps many of them make that first step on the path towards rehabilitation, as it encourages them to think and talk about the negative impacts of violence. It also helps them to learn basic work skills and encourages them to pursue further employment opportunities and make positive changes in their lives”.
The Families Commission helps fund and co-ordinate resources for the campaign, which includes UNIFEM and a range of Government Departments and Families Commission Chief Executive Paul Curry says that the relationship with Corrections holds great significance to the objective of the campaign.
“Involving prisoners in the production and distribution of all the campaign’s resources provides us with a seamless service. It helps save community organisations around the country a great deal of time and expense which allows them to focus on their individual White Ribbon Day activities and events.
“It’s really important that we reach as many people as we can with the anti-violence message. Having prisoners involved helps us to reach a group of people who really need to be encouraged to eliminate violence form their lives. We are delighted to hear that the have benefited from the campaign.”
Notes to reporter:
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 (CIE), 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 percent of prisoners did not have a job before entering prison and that 52 percent had no formal qualifications. Research shows that prisoners who find sustainable employment on release are less likely to re-offend.
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